Tuesday, September 6, 2011


Want to know why relations between Turkey and Israel are strained?

In May last year eight Turkish nationals and an American of Turkish descent died on the Mavi Marmara, the lead ship of the six-vessel convoy taking aid to the Palestinian territory of Gaza, in a raid by Israeli special forces in international waters. The U.N. reports did nothing to diffuse the situation by on one hand criticizing Israel for excessive force but then saying it Israel was right to impose a naval blockade to prevent arms from reaching Hamas. Turkey has not blacklisted Hamas as a terrorist group (Europe has making Turkey's attempts to join the EU difficult). Last week, Turkey announced that Israeli ambassador Gaby Levy was being expelled and all bilateral military agreements were suspended as it angrily rejected the findings of a United Nations probe into the deadly flotilla raid (source: Sydney Morning Herald). Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has announced a total freeze of military and trade ties with Israel and threatened to visit Gaza as the one-time allies' diplomatic spat intensified.

Want to know why the United States has been silent on the issue?

 The State Department last week announced that Turkey will host a ballistic missile defense radar in support of NATO's efforts to defend its European member states from attack. "The United States welcomes Turkey's decision," said State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland in a Sept. 2 release. Stars and Stripes reported that the United States hopes to set up the AN/TPY-2 transportable X-band phased-array surveillance radar at an undisclosed Turkish military site by year's end. The radar will link to Navy's BMD-capable Aegis ships that will operate in the Mediterranean Sea as part of the US Phased Adaptive Approach BMD architecture that will help protect Europe. Both Poland and Romania already have agreed to host US missile interceptor sites later this decade as part of the PAA. AFA Magazine

Forward-based radars enhance the missile defense system’s capability by adding precision in tracking and cueing interceptors against incoming missiles. Radars are capable of detecting ballistic missiles early in their flight and will provide precise tracking information for use by the missile defense system. This approach provides overlapping sensor coverage, the potential to extend ballistic missile defense system battle space, and to complicate enemy's ability to penetrate defense system.

The United States and NATO cannot create a ballistic missile shield without a presence in Turkey. Dealing with Turkey whenever its interests diverge from US policies becomes difficult. It is far easier to just ignore our Eastern ally and hope they can peacefully settle things on their own. Of course, that was before the Syrian government crackdown that is driving thousands of Syrians into Turkey.

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