Turkey’s nationalists and Islamists value Diyarbakır’s (Amed) subjugation more than they value Gaza’s liberation, argued Ender Öndeş in his latest column for Yeni Yaşam daily on Thursday. That’s why, despite its public pro-Islamic rhetoric and criticism of Israel’s actions against Palestinians, Turkey has maintained significant economic and military partnerships with Israel, the political commentator said.
Öndeş stated that Turkey’s trade volume with Israel has surged by 532% over the past two decades. Despite periodic violent clashes, such as Israel’s 2010 raid of a Turkish humanitarian flotilla bound for Gaza, economic relations between the two giants have remained robust.
“While on one hand statements are made like ‘Israel is an occupying terrorist state’, on the other hand, the full-speed continuation of commercial/military relations reveals the classic hypocrisy of the AKP [Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party],” Öndeş highlighted.
The piece also delved into the two nations’ military arrangements. These include the modernisation of F4 and F5 fighter jets, M60A1 tanks, and the exchange of pilots for training. “Israeli pilots have been permitted to conduct flight exercises at the Konya Firing Range in Turkey, while Turkish pilots have been allowed to practice at the computerised firing range in the Nevatim airspace in Israel. These are known agreements. The extent of secret military agreements, however, is not fully known,” Öndeş added.
Recent conflicts in the Middle East have come at an inconvenient time for the AKP, forcing a more moderate tone in rhetoric. Öndeş explained that while Turkey continues its attacks on civilian infrastructure in North and East Syria, the escalation in the Israel-Palestine conflict has occurred simultaneously, creating a delicate situation for President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Despite his history of using impassioned rhetoric and encouraging public demonstrations, Öndeş noted Erdoğan has remained unusually restrained.
Öndeş also mentioned that Turkey was one of the first countries to recognise the legitimacy of the State of Israel and has had a complex relationship with the country since its establishment in 1948. This included security and intelligence cooperation, and special relationships with other countries in the region like Saudi Arabia and Egypt. “Even if there are crisis-ridden turns, Turkey’s ‘security’ cooperation with Israel has hardly been interrupted since the 1960s,” Öndeş stated.
“Syria’s support for the PKK [the Kurdistan Workers’ Party] was an important function that rapidly developed Turkey-Israel relations,” Öndeş said, highlighting the role of intelligence-sharing against common perceived threats. “It’s no longer a secret that the AKP government, which is ready to cooperate with everyone against the Kurdish movement, values Amed more than Gaza, and that deep commercial and military relations are conducted behind all the bombastic speeches.”
Öndeş pointed to the hypocrisy of the AKP government in maintaining a pro-Islamic rhetoric often at odds with its actions. “The government’s dual stance is not only contradictory but also raises questions about its long-term sustainability,” he warned.