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Farrell: The Flotilla Raids—A Fatal Blow to Allies?

The Israeli-Turkish alliance so abruptly shattered in the past few days may have been born of military necessity, but it was still real.

The Turkish military needed Israel's intelligence and hardware in the 1990's to pursue its conflict with Kurdish militants in eastern Turkey. The New York Times in an article on Wednesday detailed the military-to-military contactsand the joint training programs that formed the basis of their alliance. More recently the changing geopolitics of the region have shifted. The Turkish population, especially since the Iraq/US conflict, responds more like a Middle Eastern state than anything else.

Politicians that are worth anything can feel wind shifts and try to get ahead of them and pretend they led people there.

Protesters take part in a vigil in reaction to Israel's deadly raid on an aid flotilla bound for the blockaded Gaza Strip yesterday outside the Sydney Town Hall on June 1 2010 in Sydney, Australia. More than 10 activists were killed during a confrontation after Israeli commandos boarded ships in an international 'Freedom Flotilla' convoy transporting aid to the Gaza Strip.
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Protesters take part in a vigil in reaction to Israel's deadly raid on an aid flotilla bound for the blockaded Gaza Strip yesterday outside the Sydney Town Hall on June 1 2010 in Sydney, Australia. More than 10 activists were killed during a confrontation after Israeli commandos boarded ships in an international 'Freedom Flotilla' convoy transporting aid to the Gaza Strip.

Also, Turkey is a growing economic power and is anxious to loosen its old Cold War ties and establish itself as a player on the world stage.

The recent Turkey/Brazil attempt to broker an Iranian nuclear deal is evidence of that. And of course there is trade and economic well being. Being an ally of Israel prevented Turkey from penetrating growing Middle East markets. The Times points out that, especially since the first Gulf War and the sanctions placed on Iran, Turkey feels it has missed lucrative business opportunities. "Restoring relations with neighbors in the Middle East boosts trade and creates jobs", says the paper.

So it perhaps shouldn't have been a surprise that Israel was set up for a conflict that would allow Turkey to get in front of the pact and be the staunchest of the staunch defenders of the Gazians and the Palestinians.

Turkey's foreign policy had been changing for a few years and now it seems they have morphed from Israel's closest Mid East ally into one of the most vocal of their opponents.

The US finds itself between a rock and a hard place and in conflict with two of its allies. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will be put to the test. She will have to persuade the world that this "is not a choice between Turkey and Israel, but a choice between right and wrong, between legal and illegal" said Turkey's foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu.

Cooler heads should insist on an international review committee to investigate the incident.

Notice how effective such an approach was in the North Korea/South Korea torpedo incident. By presenting evidence to world wide scrutiny and investigation, North Korea was exposed and even China feels moved a bit towards criticizing the North. Time is needed and dogmatic defense that my country is right no matter what will not help.

An editorial in the Wall Street Journal summed it up best. "This is a grievous, self inflicted wound. It has damaged Israel's ties with Turkey, once its closest ally in the Muslim world (although I argue Turkey was looking for a provocation); given the Hamas led government a huge propaganda boost; and complicated peace talks with the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank." And more to our detriment, "It has also made it tougher for the Obama Administration to persuade the United Nations Security Council to put new sanctions on Iran's nuclear program - which Israeli officials insist is their top priority." In effect, who cares now what Israeli priorities are.

Oh, for the simple complexities of the stock market.

Pending home sales (contracts signed but not yet closed) were up nicely last month and the market prognosticators were saying this was the excuse for a better tone to the market. That's nonsense. Pending home sales were up because the tax credit was expiring and sales were pulled forward to take advantage of it. Mortgage applications for purchase have plunged 39% the last four weeks and are now at a thirteen year low. Do not get excited about housing. Although some say low mortgage rates and an improving job market will revitalize sales without the help of tax breaks, I'll wait to see it.

I do love New York.

Born here and will never leave.

But I don't kid myself about the reality of my State. The NY Times noted that NY State stopped paying $2.5 billion of its billsas a short term way of staying solvent. The article also said there were a half dozen cash poor states delaying tax refunds because they don't have the dough. Help may be on the way in that there is a report that withholding taxes are up. That is usually a sign that employment is up as well. The jobs number this coming Friday will be, as always, a market moving event.

And from my long time pal, Justin Spitzer of RBC, comes this note that he found drifting around the net. May's -7.4% decline was the 28th worst monthly decline since 1960. Of the 30 worst declines (average loss of -9.7%) since that date, the following month has averaged a loss of just -.84%. I'll take that.

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