FACING A DILEMMA.
Strengthening relations between Turkey and Jordan are being viewed with suspicion elsewhere.
Speaking in Amman last May at the start of a 20-day joint Turkish-Jordanian military exercise, the Turkish ambassador to Jordan, Suha Umar, was full of praise for the country to which he had been appointed. "Jordan is the only moderate country with long-term vision in the Middle East that Turkey can trust," he said; a candid enough statement for a diplomat.
However, such praise for the Jordanians by Turkey has had a decidedly unnerving un·nerve
tr.v. un·nerved, un·nerv·ing, un·nerves
1. To deprive of fortitude, strength, or firmness of purpose.
2. To make nervous or upset. affect in the region recently, setting off alarm bells in certain other Middle Eastern capitals. Why this is so Ambassador Umar well knew, prompting him to add hurriedly to his previous statement, "Turkey's military cooperation with Jordan has nothing to do with its military ties with Israel."
Nevertheless, with Jordanian participation in the biannual bi·an·nu·al
1. Happening twice each year; semiannual.
2. Occurring every two years; biennial.
bi·an Turkey-Israel strategic talks on 10 June, such denials are beginning to look a little shaky.
Turkish-Israeli cooperation goes back to a defence accord signed in 1996, but became a regional issue and the target for strong Arab criticism last January when the two countries held joint naval exercises in the Eastern Mediterranean -- along with US ships.
Since then the interests of the two have been seen to converge on a number of issues. Neither have a great deal of trust for Syria, which borders both, and recent developments in the Central Asian oil game have also seen them similarly aligned. Turkish hopes for a pipeline from Baku to Ceyhan on its southern Mediterranean coast to transport Caucasian oil are also strongly supported by Israel. Tel Aviv Tel Aviv (tĕl əvēv`), city (1994 pop. 355,200), W central Israel, on the Mediterranean Sea. Oficially named Tel Aviv–Jaffa, it is Israel's commercial, financial, communications, and cultural center and the core of its largest would like to see a link from there to its own ports, giving it another energy source independent of Middle East oil and gas production.
At the same time Israel wants to sell Turkey its tanks and use Turkish airspace to practice low-level flying. It is also jointly developing the Popeye I and II air-launched missiles with Turkey. Meanwhile, due to difficulties in gaining US Congressional approval for military sales to Ankara and Turkey's desire to maintain and upgrade its largely-US origin hardware, the Turks see Israel as a way of bypassing Congress to get the equipment they want.
On the other hand, although Turkey and Jordan signed a military training agreement 10 years ago, this was not followed up until last year, when Jordanian observers joined the controversial Eastern Mediterranean naval exercise. Then, last April, the two exchanged troops to take part in joint training -- the fruit of which was mid-May's 20-day military exercise. In addition, Jordanian pilots have been receiving F-16 fighter aircraft fighter aircraft
Aircraft designed primarily to secure control of essential airspace by destroying enemy aircraft in combat. Designed for high speed and maneuverability, they are armed with weapons capable of striking other aircraft in flight. simulator training in Turkey, where the F-16 is produced under licence.
Small stuff perhaps, but concurrent with this have been a series of meetings between top Turkish and Jordanian officials. At the beginning of May, Jordanian Chief of Staff, Field Marshal Abdul-Hafez Marai el-Kaabneh, met the head of the Turkish First Army, General Atilla Ates, a few days after Jordan's Crown Prince Hassan visited Ankara. In mid-June the Turkish air force commander-in-chief, General Ilhan Kilic, was in Amman concluding a deal with Jordanian air force commander, General Mohammad Ababneh, to include Jordanian air and naval personnel in future joint activities and share airspace. "This doesn't and cannot have any connection with Israel," Ambassador Umar was quick to repeat at the time.
Then, at the biannual strategic talks, the deputy chief of the Turkish general staff The armed forces of the Republic of Turkey, having great geopolitical and geostrategic importance, comprise the Army, Navy and Air force that are subordinate to the General Staff. , Cevik Bir, met Israeli defence minister Itzhak Mordechai's senior aide, David Ivry David Ivry (born 1934) was the Israeli Ambassador to the United States from 2000 to 2002, and the ninth commander of the Israeli Air Force. In 1999, he was appointed first director of the National Security Council.
David Ivry was born in Tel-Aviv, in the year 1934. , and confirmed afterwards af·ter·ward also af·ter·wards
At a later time; subsequently.
afterwards or afterward
later [Old English æfterweard]
Adv. 1. that there had been Jordanian participation, something Amman itself was loath loath also loth
Unwilling or reluctant; disinclined: I am loath to go on such short notice.
[Middle English loth, displeasing, loath to do.
The significance of visits by senior Turkish military officials also has to be put into the context of current Turkish politics. Significantly, Turkish-Jordanian links have almost exclusively been led by Turkish generals, not foreign or defence ministry officials. Given the important role of the military in Turkish politics in the last year and a half, this is perhaps not too surprising.
Under the previous Turkish administration of Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan Necmettin Erbakan (* September 29 1926, the leader of the now banned pro-Islamist Welfare Party (RP), the official government line on foreign policy was to develop links with Islamic countries -- particularly the Turkic republics of Central Asia, but also other Middle Eastern and ) is a Turkish engineer, academic, politician, political party leader and prime minister of Turkey between 1996 and 1997. North African North Africa
A region of northern Africa generally considered to include the modern-day countries of Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya.
North African adj. & n.
Adj. 1. states.
Erbakan set up the now largely defunct DEFUNCT. A term used for one that is deceased or dead. In some acts of assembly in Pennsylvania, such deceased person is called a decedent. (q.v.) Developing Eight (D8) group of Muslim nations and even visited the pariah Libyan leader, Colonel Gaddafi. However, while this was going on the Turkish military were pursuing quite a different agenda.
Despite opposition from within the RP the General Staff was able to develop its links with Israel, and indeed, in the military-government power struggle of 1997, it was the generals who came out on top, launching last July's "soft coup" to remove the RP and replace it with the opposition coalition that still rules today.
In consequence Turkey's links with Israel have remained a principle item in Turkish foreign policy. Now, many observers believe, a similar lead is being given to the current, beleaguered be·lea·guer
tr.v. be·lea·guered, be·lea·guer·ing, be·lea·guers
1. To harass; beset: We are beleaguered by problems.
2. To surround with troops; besiege. government by the generals in moves towards stronger ties with Jordan.
Arab reaction to these developing links has been one of serious concern. Speaking to the Turkish press on condition of anonymity at the time of the troop exchange, an Arab ambassador in Ankara said that Turkey and Israel were trying to manoeuvre Jordan into their alliance. "They are trying to pull Jordan into these arrangements," he said.
Shi'ite Sheikh sheikh
Among Arabic-speaking tribes, especially Bedouin, the male head of the family, as well as of each successively larger social unit making up the tribal structure. The sheikh is generally assisted by an informal tribal council of male elders. Allamah Muhammad Husayn Fadlallah was more outspoken. Putting the US behind the scenes, he saw evidence here of a desire in Washington "to draw Turkey, Israel and Jordan into an alliance against Syria, Iran and other Arab countries" in order to force through a Middle East peace settlement in line with Israeli wishes.
Such developing links may have added certain complications to the recent call of Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat, for an Arab summit to try and force a breakthrough in the stalled Middle East peace process. Syria demanded that such a conference, if it were to happen, must call for a freeze on ties with Israel and a reimposition Noun 1. reimposition - imposition again
imposition, infliction - the act of imposing something (as a tax or an embargo) of the Arab economic embargo on Tel Aviv. Leading the opposition to this was Jordan.
Syria and Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabia (sä`dē ərā`bēə, sou`–, sô–), officially Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, kingdom (2005 est. pop. also issued a joint statement mid-June condemning the Turkish-Israeli alliance. Saudi Arabia has been critical of the government in Amman -- as has the Gulf Cooperation Council -- since Jordan refused to join the Gulf War anti-Iraqi coalition. Ever since then, the Saudis have cut off oil supplies to the Hashemite kingdom.
The Jordanians are thus seen in Ankara as facing a dilemma. Fear of fundamentalism fundamentalism.
1 In Protestantism, religious movement that arose among conservative members of various Protestant denominations early in the 20th cent. is shared by both countries, and a strengthening of the military to ward off such a perceived threat has been the response in Jordan and Turkey. Jordan needs to modernise Verb 1. modernise - become technologically advanced; "Many countries in Asia are now developing at a very fast pace"; "Viet Nam is modernizing rapidly"
modernize, develop its armed forces, and the Turks are there to help them do this, anxious as they are to develop their armaments production and regional influence. The US is also supportive of such links.
Ambassador Umar sees the new ties as far from worrisome for any third countries though. "Turkey and Jordan are the two countries in the Middle East who can bring security and stability to the region," he believes. There is also some distance to travel between Jordan and Israel these days, as relations have often been bumpy bump·y
adj. bump·i·er, bump·i·est
1. Covered with or full of bumps: a bumpy country road.
2. Marked by bumps and jolts; rough: a bumpy flight. since the election of Binyamin Netanyahu -- last September's bungled bun·gle
v. bun·gled, bun·gling, bun·gles
To work or act ineptly or inefficiently.
To handle badly; botch. See Synonyms at botch.
n. Mossad assassination Assassination
See also Murder.
Fanatical Moslem sect that smoked hashish and murdered Crusaders (11th—12th centuries). [Islamic Hist.: Brewer Note-Book, 52]
conspirator and assassin of Julius Caesar. [Br. attempt of an Hamas leader in the Jordanian capital being a case in point.
Nonetheless, Turkey seems set to push for further links with Jordan, and with other Arab states -- notably Egypt, which Turkish Deputy Under-secretary of Defence, General Armagan Kuloglu, visited recently in an effort to improve military ties and ward off Egyptian criticism of Turkish-Israeli links. Since then a number of energy projects have also been discussed between Ankara and Cairo. Turkish prime Minister, Mesut Yilmaz, is also to visit the region in September.
It is many years since the Middle East had to take any great account of its northern Turkish neighbour, but with recent developments, all that may be about to change.