Iran Election Guide

Donate to EAWV

Or, click to learn more


Entries in Davos (4)


The Turkey-Israel Clash on Gaza: The American Jewish Committee Joins In

Update: On Saturday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad praised Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan’s stance in Davos: “You interpreted the emotions of nations in the world. Iranian people hail your dignified attitude with the sincerest heart.” After the speech, hundreds of Iranians organized demonstrations to show their "respect" and left roses in front of the Turkish Embassy in Tehran.

The response indicates that Iran is hoping to use Erdogan's position to improve relations with Turkey, breaking the US-backed Sunni isolation of Iran's policies in the Middle East.

The American Jewish Committee has now joined the debate over Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s denunciation of Israeli actions in Gaza, calling Erdogan's act a "diplomatic impoliteness" and “a public disgrace that may well encourage further outrages against Israel and Jews.”

“Prime Minister Erdogan’s tantrum at Davos throws gasoline on the fire of surging anti-Semitism,” said AJC Executive Director David A. Harris. Harris added that Israel must respond to Erdogan's provocation. And, in his assurance that “the relationship between Turkey and Israel is a vital one that has enjoyed the support of American Jews”, there was a veiled threat. American Jewish lobbies might withdraw their support for Turkey against attempts to pass a "genocide resolution" in the US Congress condemning Turkish killing of Armenians in the 20th century.

On 21 January, a week before Davos, the AJC, Anti-Defamation League, B’nai B’rith International, Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, and the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs sent a letter to Erdogan detailing their worries over "increasing anti-Semitist activities" in Turkey. Thus the ongoing interaction between the "harsh statements" on Israel by Erdogan and the efficiency of the counter-statements by pro-Israeli US organizations are more significant than what happened on the stage in Switzerland.

Indeed, the respond of the US organisations indicates that Erdogan's campaign may be short-lived. Both the international and regional politics are not conducive for a sustained position against Tel Aviv, given the long-term indispensability of Turkey and Israel for each other. Erdogan's "bold" behavior in Davos is more likely to be an investment in his future electoral prospects rather than in a changed Ankara strategy.

Today's Obamameter: The Latest in US Foreign Policy (30 January)

Current Obamameter Reading: Neutral

5:15 p.m. So you want to know the direction of US strategy in Afghanistan? Here's a big clue: the next American Ambassador to Afghanistan is not a diplomat. It's Lieutenant General Karl Eisenberry, who has done two tours of duty in the country, including a 18-month stint that ended in 2007.

This is the first time in my memory that a serving military officer has been appointed as an ambassador, and it effectively means that the military has locked down the key posts in the Afghan theater. Eikenberry will be working with the head of the Central Command, General David Petraeus, the US commander in Afghanistan, General David McKiernan, supported in Washington by General James Jones, the National Security Advisor.

5 p.m. The Pentagon is beginning to define the escalation of US troops in Afghanistan. A combat brigade of 3700 troops deployed east of Kabul this week. Five more brigades, including one for training of Afghan forces, could eventually be sent out this year, and the orders for three of those brigades, including a Marine task force, may be issued next week.

With the already-deployed brigade, the three to be deployed, and 5000 support forces, the US will be adding 25,000 troops to the Afghan theatre by mid-summer. That is an increase of about 60 percent in the American troop level: currently there are 19,000 soldiers under American command and 17,000 in NATO's International Security Assistance Force.

1:30 p.m. The US has called North Korea's rhetoric towards South Korea (see 7 a.m.) "distinctly not helpful".

1 p.m. The US Government has expressed scepticism over a deal for power-sharing in Zimbabwe between current President Robert Mugabe and the opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai: ""What is important here is actions and not words. We want to see real, serious power-sharing by the Mugabe regime."

7 a.m. (Washington time): North Korea is not exactly in line with President Obama's "reach-out" strategy, scrapping all accords with South Korea. "There is neither a way to improve (relations) nor hope to bring them on track," stated the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea, "Inter-Korean relations have reached the brink of a war."

CNN, meanwhile, is paying close attention to the row between Turkey and Israel at the Davos Economic Forum. Ali Yenidunya has posted an analysis for Enduring America.

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki has said at Davos that Tehran is ready to work with President Obama. We're keeping a close eye on this, as there is talk of a secret US-Iran meeting next week --- we'll be posting on that later.

Trying to close one of the notorious chapters in the Iraq War story, Baghdad has refused to renew the license of the US security company Blackwater.

The Latest on Turkey, Israel, and the Crash in Davos (Video and Analysis)

Latest Post:The Turkey-Israel Clash on Gaza -The American Jewish Committee Joins In

Israeli President Shimon Peres says he has had an "amicable" telephone conversation with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan: "I called him up and said, yes, it's nothing against you, nothing against Turkey. We consider you as a friend." Peres added that he had answered "unfounded accusations".

Erdogan, meanwhile, told a conference Friday afternoon: "Nobody has the right to wish that an incident in which 1,300 people died and 5,000 people were injured be ignored.” Even more significant was his linkage of Turkey's emerging role in the Middle East with his domestic political position. Citing the "fundamental slogan" of Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the Turkish state, “Peace at home, Peace in the world”, he continued, "This is why we mediated between Israel-Syria and Israel-Palestine; we played an active role in the solution of Lebanon conflict.”

Erdogan was careful to express his position as one of opposition to violence and killing, rather than an opposition to Tel Aviv: "We do not blame Israel, the Israeli people and Jews.…We are against anti-Semitism…” He may, however, be facing a challenge from the Turkish military. Brigadier Metin Gurak, the Chief of the Communication Department of the General Staff declared that it was essential to act "in accordance with the national interests" in terms of Turkey’s bilateral military relations with others.

Scenes of thousands of Gazans gathering on streets to show support for Erdogan divided media and the public in Turkey. While some accused the Prime Minister of not putting sufficient emphasis on the "terrorist" identity of Hamas, others appreciated his "determined" and "idealist" posture on the stage in Davos.

Turkey, Israel, and the Crash in Davos

Update: The Latest on Turkey, Israel, and the Crash in Davos (Video and Analysis)
Related Post: The Turkey-Israel Relationship - Reports of Its Death Are Premature

It was an extraordinary scene yesterday at the World Economic Forum held in Davos, where hundreds of participants and millions in front of their televisions witnessed Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s denunciation and his departure before the session was closed.

Erdogan targeted Israeli President Shimon Peres, claiming his "high-toned statements" were made to "hide his guilt". Both Israeli actions in Gaza and the applause after President Peres’s speech were "crimes against humanity".

Asking for an extra minute from the moderator, Erdogan accused Israelis of “being good in killing” before quoting the 6th commandment of the Torah: “Thou should not kill.” When the moderator tied to interject, Erdogan warned him not to interrupt and said, “Davos is over for me.”
In Turkey, hundreds of party members and citizens, Turkish flags in their hands, have been waiting outside the airport to welcome Erdogan, after his ‘heroic attitude’ in Davos. On the other hand, there is a shock in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, according to diplomatic sources. Senior officials are afraid that this strained relationship with Tel Aviv may diminish the Jewish lobby’s support in the US for Turkey's position on Armenia.

For Israeli diplomatic sources, Erdogan’s speech was just another part of his "attack against Israel”. They labelled his behavior on the Davos stage an incoherent step in Turkey’s efforts to become a rational and constructive part of European Union.

A reaction from the Israeli side is expected tomorrow.