Following the undesired – for Turkey – outcome of the U.N investigation on the Mavi Marmara incident – where 9 pro-Palestinian Turkish nationals were killed in the raid by the Israeli Special Forces – Turkey has decided to expel Israeli’s diplomatic envoy to Turkey and froze military cooperation with the state of Israel. Moreover, tensions between the two states have escalated following Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s (current Prime Minister of Turkey) vow that Turkish warships would escort future aid ships bound for Gaza, a statement, that if enacted would constitute a violation of international law and would pose a direct threat against the Israeli naval blockade on the Gaza Strip which recently a U.N report declared to be legal.
One should take into account that it was largely due to the Mavi Marmara incident on the 31st of May 2010 that PM Erdogan owes his reputation for being portrayed as the “defender” of the Muslim world by the Muslim population. Mass anti-Israeli demonstrations followed in the days to come and it was largely due to Erdogan’s strong anti-Israeli rhetoric that made him more popular among the Muslim world. Thus, it would not have been inconceivable to assume that the Mavi Marmara incident can also be seen as “his” personal battle against “them” or, as it is usually put in International relations “ it is we the good against them the evil”.
In the region where anti-Israelism (not anti-Semitism) proves the loyalty to the Muslim cause, the current AKP (Justice and Development Party) administration seems to have already chosen sides. The advent of the Arab Spring and its repercussions in the Middle East has revealed that the Muslim world is in desperate need of a role model of government. Given Turkey’s – or , to be more precise, AKP’s – performance in the last 5-years, it is largely seen that many recently “enlightened” populations in Tunisia, Egypt, Syria and Libya would probably look up to Turkey as probably the most successful Muslim state. Turkey has managed to establish itself as a regional power and is already a member of the G-20.
It is in the best interest of the whole region that Turkey-Israeli relations be normalized. If Turkey is serious about becoming a world power, then it should take this rare opportunity provided for serving as the leading voice of the Muslim nations when negotiating terms with Israel before it loses its credibility. I believe that relations between Israel and Turkey will normalize and diplomatic relations will be re-established. The phase that we are witnessing now is the “hurt-ego-phase” and it occurs to states that overestimate their capabilities. It is a lesson learned for Turkey – or more accurately a wake-up call – that there is still work to be done and that regional power does not necessarily mean global power.