The Confrontation between Turkey and Russia: Lessons for Israel

(Institute for National Security Studies) Amos Yadlin - Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Vladimir Putin represent aggressive and ambitious leaders driven by the desire to transform their respective countries into the powers they once were. Indeed, the two heads of state have been referred to as "sultan" and "czar," implying the figure that each seeks to become. Turkey and Russia do not see eye-to-eye regarding the crisis in Syria or the preferable solution. Whereas Turkey has adopted the ultimate goal of Assad's removal from power, Russia regards Assad's ongoing rule as a necessary condition for the preservation of its own strategic interests in the Middle East. The conflicting interests of Russia and Turkey in Syria, along with Turkey's staunch opposition to Russian military intervention in Syria, have placed the two countries on a collision course. Their confrontation reduces the possibility of concluding the ongoing crisis in Syria and successfully contending with the Islamic State. For Israel, the Turkish interception of the Russian plane highlights the minimal room for error. The radar images released indicate that the Russian aircraft did indeed enter Turkish airspace, but that its penetration was negligible (lasting only 10-15 seconds) and clearly reflected no hostile intent toward Turkey. Israel and Russia enjoy positive, well-established, stable relations, while Israel's relationship with Turkey under Erdogan is unstable and, since 2009, has been characterized by ongoing hostility that will be difficult to allay as long as Erdogan remains a dominant force in Turkish decision-making. Yet siding with Turkey, which opposes the radical axis in Syria, would better serve Israel's strategic logic and fundamental interests. Russian operations in Syria provide a seal of approval to Israel's most dangerous enemies - Iran, Hizbullah, and the Assad regime. Maj.-Gen. Amos Yadlin, chief of Israeli military intelligence from 2006 to 2010, is director of INSS.

2015-12-04 00:00:00

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