Israel - Türkiye, the security agreement and the lie of media disputes

Geostrategic/Analysis Department
A few days ago, the Turkish Ministry of Trade announced the freezing of all its trade relations with the State of Israel, due to the “escalation of the humanitarian tragedy” in the Palestinian territories, stressing its intention not to retract this decision until it ensures an uninterrupted and sufficient flow of humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip.
To understand this development, we must research deeply into Turkish-Israeli relations and the extent of their impact on this decision. Will this (temporary) rupture include other aspects, such as military and security agreements? In addition to knowledge of trade exchange, military cooperation, and joint work in security aspects.

Formation of geopolitical relationships and motives

Turkish-Israeli relations are not as complicated as might be understood, due to their publicity at the political and economic levels, although they were characterized by a kind of secrecy in some of their intelligence and military aspects. However, the nature of their connection to consensus and the exchange of common interests produced utilitarian ties and communications, especially since the Turkish migration towards the relationship with the United States. The United States and all Western powers brought it into deep rapprochements with Israel, as part of the reassurance provided by the Turks to Israel’s allies, the “Western powers,” in addition to Turkey’s function in protecting NATO’s borders since its accession in 1952.

The strategy of utilitarian relations and escalatory discourses

There have been no significant changes in the Turkish position over the past seven decades regarding Israeli policies in the Middle East. Rather, consensus has prevailed on critical issues, especially since the Turkish presence within NATO has completely restricted it from adopting any policies hostile to Israel.
With the arrival of political Islam to power in Turkey, the Turkish discourse on the Palestinian issue changed. Rather, the issue of supporting Jerusalem and supporting Palestinian Islamic groups became on the list of the Turkish media, as the statements between the “Turkish-Israeli” parties witnessed a tone of escalation and media clash, but this did not go beyond Media, because the consolidation of relations and the increase in commercial and military relations have increased their impact more than before, and Turkey has even turned into an Israeli economic and tourist destination.
In addition to the policy of avoiding interference in the Arab-Israeli crisis, Turkey and Israel concluded a free trade agreement in 1997. Within its scope, trade in industrial products between the two parties has been exempted from customs duties since January 1, 2000. The agreement also stipulated that the two parties provide each other with tax reductions and exemptions. For agricultural products, within the framework of tariff quotas or without quantitative restrictions.
Data belonging to the Turkish Exporters Association show that Turkey exported to Israel between 2011 and 2020 steel iron, automotive industry products, chemicals, ready-made clothing, electricity and electronics, in addition to many products such as cement, glass, ceramics, soil products, furniture and paper, in addition to grains, legumes, seeds, oilseeds and all their products, raw materials and minerals. Iron and textiles. Not only that, but it also imported a large number of cars of all types and crude oil with all its products. On the other hand, Turkish jewelry also occupied an important place among the products exported to Israel.

Turkish companies will search for new markets after stopping the export of their products to Israel

The large numbers that capture the volume of trade between Turkey and Israel, and according to official reports, the volume of exchange reached 9.5 per year. At the same time, the Turkish state was leading media campaigns against Israel, which confirms the reality of the contradictions in Turkish policies in dealing with Israel, and reveals to us only one fact, which is that Turkey, under its current president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, used an escalating media language and a process of expanding relations, which is A worthy and feasible strategy to persuade the Turkish street and the segments influenced by the political Islam discourse within Arab society, in exchange for conducting utilitarian policies with Israel.
Military cooperation between the two parties after the 1996 Defense Cooperation Agreement

The history of Israeli-Turkish intelligence exchange goes back to the 1960s, then it developed to higher levels in 1994 after the two countries signed the security cooperation agreement. It then developed officially after signing two defense cooperation agreements in February and August 1996. Although the contents of these two agreements are still Secret, they are believed to include protocols relating to officer exchanges, visits by military delegations, naval port calls, access to training areas, joint air and naval training, cooperation in the areas of counter-terrorism and border security, and defense industrial cooperation. In addition, Israel and Turkey are believed to have strengthened long-standing intelligence relations.
Defense industrial cooperation: The two parties signed several contracts, enabling Israel to supply weapons and technology to Turkey. These contracts included major deals amounting to billions of dollars over the past years, as they included the modernization of Turkish warplanes in addition to supplying them with F-4E Phantom aircraft and a number of other Popeye 1 aircraft. , ground-based missiles, and an agreement to co-produce hundreds of Popeye 2 air-to-surface missiles. Turkey has also reportedly shown interest in obtaining Israeli assistance in modernizing its aging fleet of F-5 fighter jets and M60 tanks, and in co-producing Israeli reconnaissance aircraft. drones, Falcon airborne warning aircraft, the Arrow anti-missile system, and Merkava tanks. The deals also included attack helicopters, transportation, and marine machinery. It can be said that Israel contributed to the development of Turkish defenses and attacks through major deals between the two parties.
According to Israeli media sources, Turkey, under its current president Erdogan, concluded deals worth billions of dollars in the field of armaments between the two parties.
Training and exercises: The agreement at that time stipulated the exchange of air force training for training Israeli aircraft in Turkey four times a year. Israel trained its pilots to fly F-16 aircraft on long-range missions over mountainous areas, and it is believed that it participated in the Turkish air war on the strongholds of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party during the period of joint Turkish-Israeli exercises. Israel and Turkey, in coordination with the United States of America, also conducted several search maneuvers. And joint naval rescue in the eastern Mediterranean.
Intelligence and Security: Israel and Turkey have exchanged intelligence on various matters for several years, and this cooperation is said to have expanded. Israeli and Turkish officials met recently to exchange assessments regarding terrorism and the military capabilities of Syria, Iraq, and Iran. Furthermore it. Media reports indicate that, at the end of the 1990s, Israel helped Turkey secure its borders against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, who operate from bases in Syria, Iraq, and Iran, relying on its own experience in securing its borders against terrorists in southern Lebanon.

Turkish weapons to Israel: In a move that showed the volume of Turkish arms sales to Israel during the past three months of the current year 2024, the Turkish Statistics Authority lifted the curtain on official data revealing the Turkish state’s continued sale of weapons, ammunition, gunpowder, and war requirements to Israel, and these sales amounted to millions. Dollars, which included types of weapons, ammunition, gunpowder and explosive materials, in addition to chemical exports that included biodiesel, fire extinguishing materials, disinfectants and insecticides.
At the same time, Turkish official statements were denouncing the ongoing war in Gaza, and accusing Israel of using violence and murder to control the Gaza Strip. Thus, the Turkish regime demonstrated the nature of its handling of the war in Gaza, as it denounced in the media and continued to sell weapons to Israel.
In a report published by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) on March 13, 2019, Monday, Turkish arms exports to Israel exceeded 35.4% of total Turkish production in the period between 2009-2018.

Turkish-Israeli hypocrisy

During the past few years, Israeli and Turkish officials appeared to exchange accusations in the media, each according to a special criterion to embarrass the other, as the Turkish regime used the excuse of accusing the Israelis of committing crimes against the Palestinians, while the Israeli responses were centered around denouncing the Turkish military intervention in northern Syria and fighting the Kurds. However, the volume of military exchanges and the security agreements concluded revealed the falsity of the media war between the two parties.
While Israel denounced the Turkish invasion of the Kurdish areas in northern Syria, it was helping to develop Turkish weapons with which it carried out the war against the Syrian Kurds. According to the Yediot Ahronoth newspaper, the M60-A1 tanks developed by Israel were used by the Turkish army in its military operation against the Kurds in northeastern Syria (the operation to occupy Ras al-Ayn and Tal Abyad). She added that these tanks are American-made and Israeli-developed. 
Kurdish circles also accused Israeli intelligence of cooperating with Turkey in the process of capturing Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan in Kenya, and many reports indicated the involvement of both parties in intelligence coordination to fight the Kurdistan Workers’ Party and the Palestinian political movement.

Turkish-Israeli-Azerbaijani cooperation 

To empower Azerbaijan, Turkey turned to Israel to coordinate the offensive to retake the Kahrabag region, where Ankara formed a tripartite alliance with Israel and Azerbaijan, an alliance that had already proven itself during the 44-day war in the fall of 2020, in which more than 6,000 people were killed. Weeks ago, the government in Baku asked Israel to increase supplies of drones, artillery shells, rocket launchers, intelligence equipment such as eavesdropping devices and cyber technology.
According to reports, defense cooperation between the two parties is on the rise. For example, Israeli fighter pilots continue to train in Turkish airspace in exchange for Israeli technicians modernizing Turkish fighter aircraft. In July 2020, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Galant visited Azerbaijan, where his counterpart Zakir Hasanov and the army leadership briefed him on the attack plans. After the meeting, Azerbaijani cargo planes flew more than a dozen times to Israel's Ovda Airport near Eilat, which is operated by the Israeli Air Force but also suitable for civil aviation, and loaded the required equipment. In return, Israel receives oil from Azerbaijan – and is allowed to use the country as a base for intelligence and cross-border operations against Iran.

Erdogan's exploitation of new transformations

The new rapprochements with Russia have caused the Turks to lose many of the privileges they had obtained from Western powers. Although the Turkish regime still receives attention and support due to the real threats Russia poses to the security of Europe and American interests in the Middle East, Erdogan’s personal ambitions to expand his empire At the expense of his relations with the West, this constitutes a real concern among his allies in NATO, especially the constant fluctuations of the Turkish president. Therefore, Turkey's entry into the Israeli-Palestinian conflict aims at the Turkish regime's attempts to play a prominent role in finding a formula for agreement between Israel and the Hamas movement, which also helps it convince the Western powers to restore confidence in it, especially since its regime is suffering from a major crisis inside Turkey after its resounding fall. In the municipal elections, and the real threat that events herald to the future of Erdogan and his party in power.
Erdogan's resort to regaining his popularity within Türkiye is the primary motivation for taking hard-line positions against Israel
Therefore, the Turkish President is trying to direct the solution between the Israelis and Hamas and seize the issue of crisis management as a new operator leading the Hamas movement after Qatar, whose role in the peace process has been questioned. The new statements and announcement of freezing economic relations with Israel may be part of exerting pressure on it to accept the Turkish role.

Result

The extent of Turkish-Israeli relations is deeper than its exposure to major shocks during the current period, especially since the decline in the economic and trade aspects does not necessarily mean an impact on intelligence and military relations. The Turkish departure from the Western path poses a greater dilemma for the Erdogan regime, which suffers from real poor international and regional relations and a miserable failure in domestic policies at the economic and security levels. Therefore, the Erdogan regime’s attempts to restore the confidence of Turkish society lie in raising the level of rhetoric against Israel, which is a successful strategy that most regimes in the Middle East have been able to employ for internal stability.

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