Obama’s Success In Israel

In an surprise diplomatic breakthrough last week, Obama extracted a long-awaited apology from Bibi to Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan over the killing of Turkish civilians in the flotilla incident of 2010. Brent Sasely calls Obama “a magician” for negotiating the apology, while Michael Koplow thinks the mess in Syria is what finally brought the two countries back together:

[I]t was the recent introduction of Syrian chemical weapons into the equation that really changed Turkey’s calculus; now more than ever, the country needs better intelligence and allies to bring an end to the civil war or at least prevent it from spilling over. Turkey cannot afford to have chemical weapons used anywhere near its border with Syria, and the longer the fighting goes on, the greater the chances of a chemical weapons strike gone awry. Israel simply has better intelligence on regional developments than Turkey does, and Turkey can use that help to monitor Assad’s weapons stores and troop movements on both sides. In addition, whereas the United States and other NATO countries have been reluctant to support the Syrian rebels in any meaningful way, Israel has a greater incentive to make sure that the moderate Sunni groups prevail over the more radical jihadist elements of the opposition. As the situation in Syria heats up, Turkey and Israel will be thankful that they can talk to each other and coordinate.

Claire Sadar connects the thaw to the other deal Ergodan has been negotiating – peace with the PKK, the Kurdish nationalist group:

The apology from Israel is situated perfectly (perhaps purposely given the fact that [FM Ahmet] Davutoglu and the Foreign Ministry were circumvented) to maximize Erdogan’s popularity and therefore his power to orchestrate the rapprochement between the Turkish government and the PKK.  Some have worried that if Erdogan appeared too eager to placate the Kurds and [their leader] Abdullah Ocalan, he risked alienating his conservative Turkish base.  However, the Israeli apology is the perfect bone to throw to his supporters.  If Erdogan does not take advantage of this moment to do everything he can to ensure a successful peace process between Turkey and the PKK, then he truly never was committed to peace in the first place.