Skirmish between Israel, Turkey Bad for Everybody

COMMENTARY | According to the Christian Science Monitor, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan suggested the Turkish military is prepared for war with Israel. Previously, Erdogan had promised to deploy Turkish warships to protect shipments to Gaza.

Israel has imposed a blockade of the Gaza Strip under the theory that “humanitarian supply” shipments were being used to mask arms shipments. Israeli forces were involved in a violent confrontation when its troops boarded a Turkish ship on its way to Gaza over a year ago.

It is hoped by national security analysts that Erdogen is simply blustering. The last thing either country, not to mention America and Europe, needs is a naval war breaking out in the eastern Mediterranean. If Turkish warships are used to escort ships taking supplies to Gaza, Israel is obligated to strike back if they resist efforts to enforce the blockade. That sort of thing can spiral out of control very quickly.

Turkey’s navy is based around a number of frigates and submarines. Israel uses smaller corvettes and fast missile boats for its navy, as well as a flotilla of advanced submarines. The Turkish air force flies F-16s and obsolete F-4 fighters. Israel has a fleet of F-15s and F-16s. Planes of either country have the range to strike at the other’s territory with ease.

The worst-case scenario would involve a Turkish warship firing on an Israel ship attempting to enforce the Gaza blockade. Israeli forces, both ships and land-based aircraft, would retaliate. If the battle takes place, as expected, close to Israeli territory, the Turks would likely be on the losing side.

What follows is only a manner of conjecture. American diplomatic and military resources would surely be brought to bear to stop the conflict between two of its allies in short order. Otherwise a full-scale war might result, with Arab countries joining in on the side of Turkey and Greece, Turkey’s traditional enemy, possibly joining Israel. The United States would be caught in the middle and would likely have to side with Israel against an aggressive Islamist Turkey. If things go on for too long, Russia and China would use the opportunity to make mischief. Even if, as many would expect, Turkey and her allies were to be quickly crushed, the damage to relations in the Middle East would be severe and long-lasting. Thus it is in the interests of all concerned to not let things go that far.

Source: Turkey says it is prepared for possibility of war with Israel, Ariel Zirulnick, Christian Science Monitor, Sept, 13, 2011

Israeli Cairo Embassy Attack, Turkish Saber Rattling Point to Middle East Turmoil, Mark R. Whittington, Associated Content, Sept. 10, 2011

Gaza Flotilla Attempts to Run Israel Blockade, Mark R. Whittington, Associated Content, May 31, 2011

People also view

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *