The first meeting on the weekend after tension between Turkey and America which was triggered by Turkey’s “no” vote on the UN Security Council’s embargo against Iran gives some interesting clues in regard to new global balances and crises. The signs from the meeting are even more striking than the sudden start of PKK attacks (or more correctly, their being made obvious), the tensions on the Israeli line suddenly being made to flare up in the Turkish media and the statements made at the end of the Obama-Erdoğan meeting.
The results of the meeting point to a different balance and to different crises than the muffled warning made by the official second in command at the USA foreign affairs ministry.
The words of the official responsible for European and Eurasian affairs that implied an “axis shift” and that called for a renewal of allegiance were clearly aimed towards drawing lines. It was a diplomatic threat that reminded Turkey of its place in global balances and a caveat not to exaggerate the place that has been opened up for it. When looked at from this angle, it can be read as a warning that even guardedly questions the strongest aspect of Turkey’s relations with the West, its membership in NATO.
On the other hand, the American administration’s statement after the Erdoğan-Obama meeting to the effect that it would ask “Israel to remove its embargo from Gaza” seems to be a contradictory approach at first glance. In other words, how should one interpret a warning to Israel emerging after a meeting where Turkey was supposed to be put in its place for vetoing the nuclear embargo and for its strained relations with Israel?
Actually this situation that appears to be both related and contradictory is an example that clearly puts forth the strengths and weaknesses of the USA in the new global balance conjecture. It should be read as a sign that declares America’s crisis in regard to whether or not it is still in power.
At the same time we are experiencing a process that is testing Turkey’s limits with its opportunities and hopes.
Meanwhile, it might be more enlightening to take a glance at all of what is happening outside of these two actors via the Israeli factor.
First let’s look at the area where the USA showed its power. In the Security Council America and the other permanent members concurred on the issue of not allowing a country “outside the system” like Iran to possess nuclear power. Nuclear technology and capacity is perhaps the most critical topic in the world system and they showed that “this is no subject to joke about.” The situation also showed that not only America, but China and Russia are also not going to permit a new nuclear power at their side. When looked at from this angle, the reaction against Turkey can be understood better. On such a critical issue the limits of the space opened to Turkey in the Middle East have been pointed out and a silent warning was made. Turkey was reminded of the limits of its regional influence. Turkey was shown that its influence is not global as it might have thought and it was shown its regional limits when it comes to nuclear technology.
With an initiative that reminds us of the days when she was the single super power, America got a decision to place an embargo on Iran. At a point where her power was at the summit, actually America’s internal and global weaknesses also became clear. Exactly at this point the Israel factor enters the picture.
While opening Turkey’s path in the Middle East, America wanted to break Iran’s power in the region and to place Turkey in the balance against Israel instead of Iran. In other words, a green light was given for Turkey to become a central power that would both be an obstacle to Iran and that would be a summoning power to balance Israel in the new Middle East balances that are hoped to be formed. The Arabs also appeared to be open to this new role.
This was the case until Israel intervened with the Blue Marmara murders and pushed America to rethink its calculations. This was an attempt to reestablish balances by relying on violent tactics left over from the cold war in the Middle East and meanwhile to put a dent in Turkey’s charisma.
This initiative is not just limited to the blood spilled in the Mediterranean Sea. Israel tried to set up a game that will draw American internal policy and global power strategies into its own sphere and this process will continue.
This is the area where the limits of the USA’s power were tested. While America is re-establishing the Middle East balance that has become unsustainable by means of reliance of violence, will she be able to overcome Israel’s hypothec or not? Using its lobbying, financial and political power, Israel is trying to pull the American administration to its own axis and meanwhile to punish Turkey via the USA. For this purpose it has already set in motion its influential circles in the American system. However, it is obvious that all of the American established order has not surrendered to this.
While Obama’s statement on Gaza shows that he has not bowed to this blackmail, it also showed the limits of compromise that he can make on being harsh due to Turkey’s attitude in the nuclear voting.
In other words, America has shown the final limit of its power with its attitude against Turkey and the final limit of its weakness with its demand for an end to the embargo against Gaza.