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The British are bashing! The British are bashing!

August 9, 2010 Leave a comment

By Bruce S. Ticker

Bruce S. Ticker

PHILADELPHIA –This is a tale of two David Camerons. Each of them is known as the prime minister of Britain and leader of the Conservative Party.

There is the David Cameron who proclaims himself a “Conservative Friend of Israel” on the Web site of Conservative Friends of Israel, which promotes support for Israel and conservative ideas in Britain.

Then there is the other David Cameron who bashed Israel and European leaders during his visit to Turkey on Tuesday, July 27, and met with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. This David Cameron uttered these words about Israel:

“The situation in Gaza has to change. Humanitarian goods and people must flow in both directions. Gaza cannot and must not be allowed to remain a prison camp…The Israeli attack on the Gaza flotilla was completely unacceptable. I have told prime minister (Benjamin) Netanyahu we will expect the Israeli inquiry to be swift, transparent and rigorous. Let me also be clear that the situation in Gaza has to change.”

The Guardian, a London daily newspaper, suggests that Cameron’s hissy fit amounted to an overheated intensification of past criticisms of Israel. Cameron told the House of Commons on June 28: “Everybody knows that we are not going to sort out the problem of the Middle East peace process while there is, effectively, a giant open prison in Gaza.”

No mention of Israeli Sgt. Gilad Shalit’s four-year imprisonment in Gaza. Or Hamas’ rocket attacks, weapons smuggling and its pledge to destroy Israel. Or that Hamas murders, tortures and terrorizes its own people. Or that the flotilla committed an act of war by attempting to breach the blockade. Or that Turkish terrorists on the Mavi Marmora attacked Israeli commandos.

The Guardian also reported that he accused France and Germany of double standards for refusing Turkey membership in the European Union while expecting Turkey to guard Europe’s borders as a NATO member.

Of that situation, it turns out that Turkey operates a blockade of its own – against Cyprus.

Cameron forgets to mention that the EU has barred Turkey from membership partly because it denies ships from Cyprus entry to Turkish ports. Cyprus is an EU member and the northern part of the island is occupied by Turkey.

Turkey invaded Cyprus in 1974 in the wake of a power struggle with Greece; Cyprus is populated mainly by ethnic Greeks and Turks, respectively 80 percent and 20 percent.

Most of us would have noticed if past British prime ministers attacked Israel so viciously. In fact, with their English accents and refined manner, who can imagine a British prime minister behaving in such an abrasive manner? Cameron’s words were so blunt he could not even sound ironic or sarcastic.

Cameron’s style – if you can call it a style – was pure bullying. To  He is intellectually dishonest and contradicts himself in a number of areas. Worse, his rant is downright dangerous.

Past prime ministers like Tony Blair and Margaret Thatcher, whose ideologies were far apart from one another, conducted themselves with a measure of class and decorum. Of course, their jobs were more stable. Cameron sounds like a desperate politician who expects to be in trouble in the next election. He must understand by now that his fellow Brits did not return the Conservative Party to power out of love for it.

The Conservatives exploited a set of circumstances to oust the Labor Party from controlling Parliament a few months ago. Fresh from their defeat, Labor leaders are carefully examining what went wrong. Cameron knows that continuation of Conservative power is by no means ensured in the next election.

One would think that the leader of the Conservative Party would be more supportive of Israel, or at least more careful with his words.

The Wall Street Journal relates this explanation from Wolfango Piccoli, analyst at Eurasia Group, a political-risk consultancy: “Support for Turkey is nothing new, but the economy is the bottom line. One of the aims of the Cameron administration is to raise the level of exports – and Turkey is part of that.”

At Israel’s expense, no less.

Perhaps the Liberal Democrats, his coalition partner, influenced him. Or he is mining votes among British Muslims. Maybe he hopes that liberal Britons will consider voting Conservative.

After this performance, how can Cameron make any claim to credibility? He is prime minister of one of the world’s greatest powers. Does he believe that his hypocrisy will go unnoticed?

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Bruce S Ticker is a Philadelphia freelance journalist

Suppose Turkey Transfers U.S. Technology and Tactics to Iran and Syria

June 22, 2010 1 comment

Ed. Note: Turkish media jumped on a sentence in a recent column in which we worried about the potential compromise of Western military technology by Turkey as it expands its relations with Iran and Syria (and Brazil, Hamas and Hezbollah). We weren’t the only ones worried. A member of our Board of Advisors with long experience in U.S. defense policy wrote the following:

As a member of NATO, Turkey has access to a wide array of American technology that, if compromised, could spell real danger for U.S. operations in the Middle East and Persian Gulf, and threaten allies that rely on American equipment and training. Turkey’s increasingly close relations with Hamas, Hezbollah, Syria, Iran and, recently, Russia, should cause the United States to monitor Turkey closely with an eye toward the damage that could be done to American interests.

Unfortunately, the U.S. has shown no interest in the radical reorientation going on inside of Turkey. The widespread arrest of past and present Turkish military figures along with a large number of others has not sparked even a comment from the State Department or Pentagon, and nor from the White House. The participation of the Turkish government with the IHH in the Gaza flotilla – and the corresponding inflammatory rhetoric that has emanated from the Turkish government – received even less attention. The result is that the Turkish government thinks it has a free hand with Israel, as well as with Iran – although it is peeved the U.S. did not back the Turkish-Brazilian deal for a portion of Iran’s nuclear materials.

A particular worry is the Turkish intelligence services, to which Prime Minister Erdogan has appointed two radical Muslim civilians to key positions: Hakan Fidan as head of Milli Istihbarat Teskilati (MIT), Turkey’s foreign intelligence service; and Muammer Güler as Undersecretary for Public Order and Security, which heads Turkey’s counterterrorism service. The intelligence services are playing a key role in separating the Turkish military from Israel and in the removal of those they see as a threat to the current government.

The big risk is that the intelligence services, conflating their very strong hatred of Israel with their support of Israel’s – and America’s – enemies, will grab equipment and information from the Turkish military and share it with those enemies.

No one can competently say what Turkey is discussing – or sharing – with Hamas and Hezbollah, or with Iran and Syria. Until the Gaza flotilla, Israel did not collect intelligence on Turkey, and it is unlikely the U.S. has paid much attention.

Turkey has the third largest air force in NATO (some 930 aircraft) after the U.S. and the UK. Of these, 230 are F-16’s (Blocks 20, 40 and 50) and Turkey is a Level 3 partner in the forthcoming Joint Strike Fighter. Like the U.S., Turkey has KC-135 refueling tankers, meaning that the Turkish Air Force can operate just about anywhere on a sustained basis (or could provide refueling to Iranian F-14’s or Syrian Sukhois and MiGs). Turkey also has four AWACS aircraft that can be used to direct air battles – their own or those of their new allies. This is a particular risk to the U.S. because it exposes all U.S. assets in the Gulf area to Turkish real-time surveillance, and it could give to the Iranians and Syrians a strong ability to actively target U.S. bases and operations, as well as U.S. air, naval and land assets in the region.

Turkey also has a relatively strong Navy with a number of German-designed diesel electric submarines, modern torpedoes, and surface ships equipped with missiles and gun systems. Its navy is probably not capable of challenging the U.S., but Turkey could transfer sensitive systems to America’s adversaries. Among the systems in Turkish hands that could pose serious threats are the U.S. Harpoon missile, the Norwegian Penguin, the Exocet from France, Sea Skua from BAE systems, Hellfire II from the U.S. and others.

Turkey has a strong amphibious capability with an assortment of landing craft, mobile armor systems, self-propelled guns, anti-tank systems and a range of equipment that, if in Iranian or Syrian hands, could spell real trouble. For example, Turkey has more than 850 Stinger missiles (now locally built). These missiles are the same ones the Mujahedeen used to great effect against Russian helicopter gunships. Also in the Turkish army are tens of thousands of LAW antitank rockets, TOW antitank missiles and the very effective Russian Kornet antitank missile. Any of these systems, but particularly the TOW missiles, if transferred would significantly strengthen the Iranians and Syrians.

There are countermeasures systems, night vision equipment, communications gear, command and control and capabilities from other countries, such as advanced Israeli drones, that in the hands of either the Iranians or Syrians, could tip the balance in the region and directly harm U.S. operations and leverage while also posing a serious operational threat.

At this time, the U.S. has not taken any steps to moderate the flow of technology, equipment, systems and supplies to Turkey. In fact, the reverse is true as the Obama Administration has been building its “pro-Muslim” foreign policy in large part around Turkey. And it is true that in some areas, most particularly in Afghanistan, the Turks are making a contribution. Turkey has a small contingent responsible for security around Kabul, and also assists in training the Afghan Army and police forces. But even this positive is a red flag, because Turkey’s close relationship to Iran could pose a serious risk if Ankara and Tehran expand their relationship to cover the evolving situation in Afghanistan and connected with it, Islamic ideological collaboration.

Turkey is a powerful country for many reasons – its NATO membership, its heavy investment in the military, its historical position in the region and its strong alliance with the United States. That the United States is standing by and waiting for the next example of Turkey’s turn away from the West to happen is narrow-minded and reckless.

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Bryen is senior director of security policy of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs.  Her column is sponsored by Waxie Sanitary Supply in memory of Morris Wax, longtime JINSA supporter and national board member.

Turkey, Israel’s best friend in Middle East? That reminds me of the story…

June 7, 2010 Leave a comment

By Alex Liff

Alex Liff

SAN DIEGO–Watching the aftermath of the so called Gaza flotilla unfold can’t help but remind one of the following old joke that goes something like this.   A gentleman comes out of a building and sees a crowd gathered below, gesturing angrily toward a roof where one can observe a young man dragging an old lady toward the edge of the roof, in an attempt to throw her down.  The crowd, visibly upset, yells insults at the young man, telling him to let the old woman alone.  Suddenly another person emerges from the building and announces that the old lady is the young man’s mother in law at which point the crowd exclaims, “ah the witch, the nerve of her to resist”.  Substitute Israel for the old woman and the world for the crowd and the whole absurdity of the affair comes clearly into focus. 

In fact the whole affair can be characterized by the following analogy.  The door bell rings, you open it and in barges one of the neighbors, the one you used to play poker with but lately he has been acting kind of weird.  He punches you in the face, gives you a bloody nose and then declares that he won’t play poker with you anymore, until of course you apologize for not leaving the door open and then getting some blood on his shirt with your darn, squirting nose.  The neighborhood is up in arms at your brutality and your neighbors from Norway and Sweden in fact drop you from the neighborhood poker night all together.  Which brings us to Israel’s so called old friend, Turkey.  “Israel cannot find any better friend in the region than Turkey. And Israel is about to lose that friend,”  declared Turkey ‘s ambassador to U.S, Namik Tan.  He then went on to kindly outline the steps that Israel could take to keep its “good” friend, Turkey, from severing those dear ties.  And so with a straight face, can we have some drum roll please. 

 First, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would have to publically apologize to Turkish PM Tayyip Erdogan specifically and to the Turkish nation in general for the dastardly assault at sea that killed the nine peace loving Turks who were last seen in a video called “bash an Israeli soldier’s head in with a peace loving metal pipe”.  The esteemed ambassador unfortunately did not specify if PM Netanyahu would have to be standing on one, or two knees while giving that apology leaving those wicked Israelis to guess about the proper protocol that would satisfy the aggrieved, peace loving Turks. 

Second, Israel would have to consent to, practically beg the U.N to organize a so called international investigation into the Flotilla affair.  Here again the details remained a bit murky as the honorable ambassador did not specify if it would be Iran or Saudi Arabia or perhaps some other equally deserving and unbiased world actor chairing such an impartial commission.  Perhaps it would be Hamas itself,  given all of its significant human rights credentials and even handedness (as in they are equally adapt at throwing people off of buildings with left as well as right hand) that would get the honorary chairmanship of such a commission. 

Third, the distinguished ambassador Mr. Tan outlined a demand for Israel to essentially lift the blockade of Gaza.  As in the first two demands, the details remained a bit incomplete,  and thus it was unclear if the Iranian missiles would need to be delivered directly to Hamas via Haifa or Ashdod ports.  It was also a bit unclear if the Israelis needed to reserve aisle or window seats for the Iranian revolutionary guard instructors who would of course be needed to teach the peace loving Hamasniks how to use such sophisticated equipment.  Of course there has been quite a bit of press lately about the bestial Israeli blockade and how it was denying the long suffering, peace loving, oppressed people of Gaza, such basic human necessities as coriander, ginger and yes, the French croissants.  It’s clear that no spontaneous suicide bombing celebration is complete without a bit of ginger and coriander.  In fact it is said that the attendees to the famous suicide bombing museum in Gaza, you know the one the graphically depicts the Pizza place bombing in Tel Aviv that peacefully killed and maimed dozens of Israelis, listed French croissants as one of the key missing items off of the cafeteria menu.  Ah, such travesty indeed. 

So what is one to make of Mr.Tan’s statement?  Well, today, saying that Israel can not find a better friend than Turkey in the region is kind of like saying that in a prison full of criminals, the one who merely killed a few people is morally superior to the rest who are mass murderers.  It is true that Turkey was a friend, in the pre-Erdogan days.  It was a relationship based on mutual benefit and befitting of a Nato member with aspirations to join the European union.  The Turks benefitted by getting Israeli military technology and economic know how while also enjoying massive Israeli tourism and the hard currency that it brought.  That all changed in the last 5 years or so, as Mr. Erdogan steered a steady course away from western orientation and toward Islamism of Iran.  Turkey has cuddled up to Iran and has done everything possible to shield Iran from international sanctions.  It has been quite clear for all but most naïve observers for quite some time that Turkey is a friend no more, not for Israelis and not for the Americans.  And just like in real life when one’s friend decides to leave you, the best reaction is to bid them a fond farewell, and ask that the door not hit them on the way out.  Groveling and begging is very unbecoming in life and politics alike. 

What does it all mean for Israel, U.S and Nato?  It’s time to face the facts, Turks are friends no longer and appropriate conclusions need to be drawn.  U.S would be well served to do the right thing and finally declare that Turkish genocide against the Armenians did take place.  Military contacts should be cut appropriately and economic cooperation curtailed.  And as for Israel?   How should Bibi respond to Mr. Tan’s tantalizing request?  Well, in 1980 at the height of the cold war, at the Olympic games, one American reporter would run into his Russian counterpart who would use his fingers to proudly show how many medals the Russians won that day.  Naturally the American was a bit frustrated.  That all changed the day the U.S Hockey team won the gold medal.  The next morning the American bumped into the Russian, and proudly held up just one finger, and you can probably guess which one it was.  The humble suggestion to Bibi is to use that one finger to respond to Mr. Tan’s proposition.  I hope it means the same in Turkish, if not, perhaps the U.N commission can help to translate. 

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Liff is a freelance journalist based in San Diego

Turkey bidding for greater influence in Middle East

May 18, 2010 1 comment

By Shoshana Bryen

Shoshana Bryen

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Turkey and Brazil announced they have “brokered” a “deal” to bring some percentage of Iranian LEU (Low Enriched Uranium) to Turkey. The “deal” is a fraud-without knowing how much uranium Iran has, you cannot know how much it “lent” to Turkey and how much remains in its weapons program. And knowing that Iran has lied about every single stage of its nuclear program, we will assume it is lying about this stage as well.
 
So much for Iran.
 
But there is something compelling about a country that looks at its position, determines its interests, and changes course to achieve new objectives. Turkey has done that. 
 
Let us be clear: we don’t have to like the direction or the choices; we don’t have to support them; and we don’t think the United States should treat Turkey as if it hadn’t made those choices. That was one reason we wrote-and strongly believe-that the Congress of the United States is the wrong place to parse and judge someone else’s history. Our Armenian friends entirely misunderstood-we were neither denying nor denigrating their history. But Congress has to be about the present and, more important, about the future. Our ongoing irritation with our Congress and our Administration is that they find it easier to pronounce on a past for which they are not responsible than to deal with present circumstances. 
 
For the moment, it may be easier but it is shortsighted in the extreme.
 
After decades of resolutely secular, pro-Western economic and security policy, during which it was resolutely rejected by Europe, the Turkish government, specifically the AKP, surveyed the landscape in the absence of the Soviet Union and the apparent decline of the United States and decided to stop banging its head against a closed European door.  Turkey, in their view, didn’t have to be the stepchild of Europe; it has a strong military, a good economy in regional terms and historic interests.
 
Turkey certainly will not give up the benefits bestowed by NATO membership and is unlikely to do anything to hamper its economic ties to the West. It is unlikely to actually sever ties with Israel while there are still benefits to be had. It simply has added new portfolios, Muslim portfolios. Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan are all Turkic, all Muslim, all post-Soviet and all amenable to leadership from Ankara (although the coup in Kyrgyzstan was a setback).

New military relations with Syria and Russia, increased political relations with Iran, the hosting of Hamas leadership and increasingly strident rhetoric are signs of Turkey’s belief that it can do as it pleases, at least in the region. 
 
There are those who believe Turkey is aiming to re-establish the old Ottoman Empire and others who think the goal is restoration of the Caliphate. Maybe, or maybe it is just opportunistic push back. In any case, the result is likely to be inimical to American and Western interests.
 
We have two thoughts: Turkey’s future choices in the region will be much more important to the United States than any possible benefit of looking backwards at the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.   
 
Was that only one thought? Yes, it was one thought about Turkey. The second thought is about the United States. 
 
The Turks stopped begging Europe for entry and considered their options; the United States should do no less. The clock cannot be turned back to 1948 any more than to 1915. The Obama Administration should stop begging the Palestinians to let us force Israel to manufacture a small, kleptocratic, dictatorial, terrorist-sponsoring welfare regime wedged in between two of our regional allies. Stop trying to create “two states” where three governing bodies currently exist with no likely mergers. 
 
Stop blaming Israel for American difficulties in the region that have nothing to do with it. 
 
Face the issues of perceived American inability to deal with radical Islamic ideology and the wars it engenders and deal with them. Face the fact that radical Islamic ideology is, at its core, forward looking-not a slap at the past, but a belief in the Islamic future. Turkey and “the Stans” are in that mix. So are Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Libya and, increasingly, the failed states of Africa. Russia and China are heavily involved, and not necessarily on our side.
 
As with the congressional fixation on the Ottomans to the exclusion of the Turkish future, it is easier for the Administration to keep pounding on Israel for its alleged intransigence than to accept that the “peace process” is over and serious American interests for the future lie elsewhere.  
 
It is equally shortsighted.

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Bryen is senior director of security policy of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs.  Her column is sponsored by Waxie Sanitary Supply in memory of Morris Wax, longtime JINSA supporter and national board member.

Did Obama’s nuclear conference make us more safe?

April 15, 2010 Leave a comment

By Shoshana Bryen

Shoshana Bryen

WASHINGTON, D.C.–Following the attacks of September 11, 2001, the Bush Administration undertook domestic security and foreign policy decisions to cope with the threat to American interests we understood to have emerged: colored threat levels, airport security changes, the provisions of The Patriot Act at home, and better intelligence coordination and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq abroad.  People asked rhetorically and/or ironically, “Are we safe yet?”
 
President Obama’s nuclear materials summit begs the same question. He says we are.
 
In an odd story, The Washington Post reported that for four hours the President led a nuclear threat reduction seminar. [Because, according to The Post, “He’s never better than when he’s the teacher, a European diplomat said.” And because he has the most extensive knowledge of the nuclear issue and foreign policy, we presume.] During that time, only heads of state and two senior aides were permitted in the room, ensuring that everyone heard only what he/she wanted to hear and that follow-up will be almost impossible, even if anyone is so inclined.
 
Canada, Ukraine and Mexico were hailed for their decision to better secure or give up their highly enriched uranium. There was a whisper that Chinese Premier Hu Jin-tao used the word “sanctions,” but it couldn’t be confirmed because the press was largely shut out of the proceedings and there were no press conferences-only prepared handouts. The Chinese vice foreign minister did say China was “open to ideas” on dealing with Iran, which may mean ideas other than sanctions. The Soviets- oops, the Russians-looked perfectly happy with their new, special place in the international firmament, while Mikheil Saakashvili, Georgia’s president, NATO aspirant and Russia’s bête noir, didn’t get any face time with Mr. Obama.
 
What wasn’t on the table was more dangerous than what was.
 
The proliferators, the rogues, the nuclear weapons seekers and builders, the countries making overt threats and covert deals-Syria, Iran and North Korea-weren’t in the room. Pakistan, straddling the world’s great divide between Islamic fundamentalist violence and democratic institution-building, insisted on the right to do whatever it wanted with its nuclear material. The relationship between terrorists (including those who seek nuclear material) and the state sponsors of terrorism-many of whom were in the room-was never mentioned.
 
Nuclear material is not the only means for terrorists to cause large-scale destruction and mayhem. Chemical and biological weapons are easier to get and to use. Non-nuclear armed cruise missiles can devastate cities. Our ports and freight rail terminals are largely unprotected.
 
And speaking of cruise missiles and unprotected ports, a Russian company has announced the “Club-K container missile system.” The Club-K, according to the company’s own video, is four cruise missiles packed inside what appears to be a standard 40-foot civilian shipping container. It mounts on a ship, a freight train or a tractor-trailer. Until the top opens and the canisters rise, it could be anything. The company’s video can be seen on YouTube here.
 
The cruise-missile-in-a-box may in fact not be all it says it is-it wouldn’t be the first time. But it is a serious reminder that for all the posturing of 47 countries signing mushy, non-binding statements, there are real threats and real threatening countries out there. Securing Canadian fissile material is fine, but China, Russia, Iran, Syria, Pakistan and North Korea-and their friends-are where the attention of the United States and its democratic friends and allies ought to be focused.

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Bryen is senior director of security policy of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs.  Her column is sponsored by Waxie Sanitary Supply in memory of Morris Wax, longtime JINSA supporter and national board member

U.S. to sell UAE ircraft, missile defense systems and other military gear

December 30, 2009 Leave a comment

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Press Release)– The Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress Dec. 22 of a possible Foreign Military Sale to the United Arab Emirates of logistics support, training and related systems for 12 C-130J-30 aircraft being procured through a Direct Commercial Sale. The complete package, including associated parts and equipment is worth approximately $119 million.

The Government of the United Arab Emirates has requested a possible sale of logistics support and training for 12 C-130J-30 aircraft being procured through a Direct Commercial Sale, 12 AN/AAR-47 Missile Approach Warning Systems, 12 AN/ALE-47 Countermeasure Dispenser Sets, 12 AN/ALR-56M Radar Warning Receivers, communication equipment, navigation equipment, aircraft ferry and refueling support, spare and repair parts, support and test equipment, publications and technical documentation, mission planning systems, personnel training and training equipment, U.S. Government and contractor engineering, technical, and logistics support services, and related elements of logistical and program support. The estimated cost is $119 million.

This proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a critical and key partner/ally, which has been, and continues to be, an important force for political stability and economic progress in the Middle East.

The proposed sale will provide the United Arab Emirates the capability to transport equipment and troops in the region, and support U.S. and NATO airlift requirements in Afghanistan.

The proposed sale of this equipment and support will not alter the basic military balance in the region.

The principal contractor will be Lockheed-Martin of Bethesda, Maryland. There are no known offset agreements proposed in connection with this potential sale.

Implementation of this proposed sale will not require the assignment of additional U.S. Government or contractor representatives to the United Arab Emirates.

There will be no adverse impact on U.S. defense readiness as a result of this proposed sale.

There will be no adverse impact on U.S. defense readiness as a result of this proposed sale. This notice of a potential sale is required by law and does not mean the sale has been concluded.

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Preceding provided by the U.S. Defense Department