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Israel seeks an alliance with Turkey against Iran

2/22/07 Source: Milli Gazete , Turkey
Editor's note: This article has been translated from Turkish by Cem Ertur from Campaign Iran.

Preparing for an attack on Iran, prime minister Olmert wants to see Turkey on Israel's side. As the full extent of the alliance against Iran becomes concrete, the true nature of military agreements between the two countries will eventually become clear.

The Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert arrived in Turkey for a two-day official visit with a busy agenda. He is due to have contacts with the prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, foreign minister Abdullah Gul, defence minister Vecdi Gonul and president Ahmet Necdet Sezer.

According to Israeli newspapers, which have given extensive coverage to Olmert's Turkey visit, Turkey's mediating role in certain issues between Israel and Syria, the Palestinian problem as well as the Black Sea-Red Sea pipeline project will be on the agenda.

However, "cooperation against Iran's nuclear program" stands out as the most crucial item of this visit. According to the Israeli press, Olmert, who talked about "enhancing the relationship which is already at a good level" before his departure from Tel Aviv, will try to get Turkey to share Israel's determination to "prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power."

Emphasizing Turkey's role as a "a leading Muslim state which remains at the centre and which may constitute a bridge to Arab countries", Olmert implied that Turkey can play a coordinating role with other Arab countries in Israel's policy of targeting Iran.

Turkey's increasing co-operation on military issues and its bilateral agreements with Israel since 1990's indicate that the co-operation against Iran's nuclear program might go beyond diplomatic efforts. Within the framework of the Defense Cooperation Agreement (DCA) signed between the two countries, Israel is regularly taking part in the 'Reliant Mermaid' naval exercises and 'Anatolian Eagle' aerial exercises. While the Israeli fighter plains have been conducting training flights in the Turkish airspace from the airbase in Konya, the Israeli commandos have been receiving snow training in Bolu mountains for some time. The military relations between the two countries are being supported by co-operation in the fields of defense industry and intelligence sharing against terrorism.

In the event of a fait-a-compli Israeli attack on Iran, it is still unclear what role Turkey would play within the framework of its military agreements, whose content have not been fully disclosed, and what the consequences would be. Israel, which is sometimes adopting a tougher attitude against Tehran than the USA, is arguing that it would target Iran alone if necessary. Israeli deputy prime minister and minister of strategic affairs Avigdor Lieberman has declared the other day that Israel might not wait for the approval of the international community to attack Iran. "We will have to face the Iranians alone, because Israel cannot remain with arms folded, waiting patiently for Iran to develop non-conventional weapons", said Lieberman. He accused the international community in general and the European Union in particular for their inadequate opposition to Iran's "nuclear goals". Reporting on the possibility of an Israeli aerial attack on Iran's nuclear installations, international media organizations point out that such an attack would not be the first of its kind. In fact, Israel had launched an aerial attack on Iraq's Osirak Nuclear Reactor in 1981.

It is believed that Turkey's airspace can be used if Israel launches such an attack on Iran's nuclear installations. In the event of possible more comprehensive military operations, such co-operation might enhance within the framework of bilateral agreements. It is feared that Israel's use of Turkish territory and air space in attacking Iran might turn Turkey itself into a target.

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