Richard Cottrell

Day one of the Ottoman new dawn: the Sultan heads for Libya

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By Richard Cottrell

Contributing writer for End the Lie

Tzipi Livni (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Read my lips. Tzipi Livni, leader of the liberal progressive opposition and America’s Chosen One in Israel, says the present confrontation with the US and Turkey is a purely Israeli show.

‘Turkey realizes that the US no longer sees Israel as an asset but as a liability…Turkey smells Israel’s weakness and isolation in the international arena and is exploiting it.’ (Today’s Zaman, September 8).

“Well, wouldn’t she?” is probably the reaction of many people in the Middle East. After all she is demonstrably itching for Binyamin Netanyahu’s job with all the eagerness of a racetrack dog waiting for the hare to bolt.

She has never forgiven ‘Bibi’ for pipping her liberal-progressive Kadima party to the post in the February 2009 general election.

He lost by one seat but made it to the PM’s residence just the same by hoovering the far right religious prayer mat for every grimy particle he could find there. (In passing Livni took a lot of Arabian betting in this race, particularly in the Gulf).

Yet what she says is intrinsically correct and she is undoubtedly speaking with the encouragement and authority of the US State Department. (Bill Clinton being the obliging ventriloquist and script-writer on duty, of course).

Livni is the Delphic Oracle in the amazing drama sweeping the Middle East. She is articulating America’s disenchantment with the Likud Gang.

She is pronouncing the death of Zionism as the destructive boot of an occupying power.  She is also explaining why the US is pursuing a second Two State solution. By this I mean Turkey and Israel, quite separately from the other, Palestine and Israel.

Livni’s father was an Irgun terrorist general. She wore the uniform of the Israeli Defense Force (IDF). She served in Mossad’s “research department.” She has emerged from all these experiences as a dedicated Two Stater because she does not see the contradiction between Israel having secure borders and the Palestinians theirs.

Livni has held a quiver of high offices, including the bed of nails known as the foreign ministry. She was confidently expected by Washington to deliver the goods back in 2009.

She has lost of none of her effervescing energy in the interval. In fact it is seems that she has improved, like good wine maturing in the cask.

Certain other recent remarks of hers point to a vintage sagacity. She opined that Israel’s isolation in the world is responsible for US isolation [on the Palestinian issue] at the UN.

In the arid gaze of Binyamin Netanyahu, the US is expected to cast Palestinian vetoes on auto-pilot for ever and a day, in order to mollify what ex-Defense Secretary Gates has just described as an “ungrateful ally.”

This is nothing less than blackmail of the empire by an outlying if important province (which if you think about it, is rather the way that Israel behaved centuries ago towards another empire). It was bound to end in tears.

Livni’s Delphic remarks strongly imply that she knew Washington was about to play the Turkish card.

She has crossed this delicate diplomatic crevice within Israel by implying that the Turks were patiently waiting to exploit a power vacuum as Israel steadily burnt up her stores of political capital in the United States.

With this sophisticated ploy she cannot be convincingly accused by her detractors of a role in a conspiracy to denigrate her homeland. Neat.

While Israelis shiver in the chill of these astonishing developments, the New Ottomans are moving quickly in their bright new dawn.

As I predicted, the Turkish Premier, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is moving swiftly to stamp his authority on Turkey’s Near Abroad.

After Egypt he pays calls on the new leaderships in Tunisia and Libya (both installed by US/NATO machinations).

His day trip to Libya is a calculated insult to those paper field marshals David Cameron and Nicholas Sarkozy, since Turkey was a minor role player in the Libyan assault. Now her leading statesman is received as the suzerain. The nicety is that neither of them can accuse Turkey of fomenting gunboat diplomacy in the Mediterranean.

The crusaders have been put on notice that Turkey is emerging as the major decisive power in the Middle East. In Libya she is moving to the pivotal role having never fired a shot. Smart work.

There will be more important diplomatic flurries. Expect Erdogan to be in Damascus and Tehran any day now. The Syrian agenda will include constructive initiatives to sort the Lebanese hotchpotch, which is actually of considerable interest and benefit to the Israelis.

The signals have already been made that Turkey will move to heal the long lasting rupture of Cyprus between the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities.

Relations with the Greeks are sound but this will finally put an end to a long running sore.

Even the unthinkable is approaching the thinkable, and that is Turkish support for resolving the Kurdish imbroglio by smiling on an independent Kurdish homeland carved from Iraq.

Stocks on the Turkish bourse are soaring. The lira is seen as solid as the old German mark used to be.


Zaman reports this morning (September 9) that Turkish naval vessels will be escorting any future Gaza aid convoys. This is Turkey’s way of making it absolutely clear that the eastern Mediterranean is not an Israeli lake. Reading between the lines we also understand that any future convoys will set out from Turkish ports.

So the temperature rises another notch or two. But the real significance lies in Turkey asserting her authority – actually little short of proclaiming sovereignty – over Gaza, in open defiance of the current Israeli administration. It will be interesting to see how the Likud crew will react.

Of course Recep Tayyip Erdogan has cooked this up with the knowledge and connivance of the Egyptian military government.

That means Netanyahu & Co are left with a declining number of options to avoid a scrap not only with the Turks but the Egyptians too.

So far it’s mostly shadow boxing but that phase may now be ending.

Turkish industrial production rose 6.9% in July. In the European Union it fell off a cliff. Turkey’s new assertiveness has reaped the unexpected reward that EU leaders are suddenly keen to kick-start the accession talks. Yes, one way and another Ottoman power is back in town.

Richard Cottrell is a writer, journalist and former European MP (Conservative). His new book Gladio: NATO’s Dagger At The Heart Of Europe is coming shortly from Progressive Press.

Edited by End the Lie

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