In the middle of the Russia-Iran-Israel triangle - NEDRET ERSANEL

In the middle of the Russia-Iran-Israel triangle

It is not good to be in stuck the middle or in between.

Unless there is an exceptional case, and there is.

The speed of political transformation in our region bills every country according to its adaptation ability. If you were to calculate how many problems Turkey is currently dealing with, standing right in the “center” of this new triangle must be considered as quite a skill.

Toward the end of 2015, I had written a column titled, “Israel might down the second Russian plane” (December 16, 2015), on Tel Aviv being uncomfortable with Russia's existence on its “borders.”

More than expected happened. Israeli planes came to Damascus and hit targets they identified as terrorists. Neither Damascus nor Russia could object at all (“Israel hits Hezbollah commander in Damascus,” December 20, 2015, Milliyet.)


What would the answer be if we asked the complete opposite? Meaning, if a Russian war plane violated Israel's borders and went as far as flying over Tel Aviv, would Israel shoot down the plane like Turkey did?

You might think I'm talking about some kind of fiction, but I'm not. Recently a “high-ranking Israel military source” stated that if a Russian plane were to violate Israeli borders and enter Tel Aviv, Israel, unlike Turkey, would not shoot it down. (“Why Israel needs Putin more than it needs Erdoğan,” March 7, 2016, Al Monitor.)

You might think that there is nothing more to say.

But there is, we are just starting.

A short while ago, Moscow called Israel's President Reuven Rivlin and said, “We are expecting you on the 16th.” However, on the same date Rivlin was expected to make an official visit to Australia and the Kremlin was aware of this visit. He immediately called Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who said, “I do not care about Australia, go to Russia.” And that is exactly what happened. Russia had strategic importance for Israel. (“Meeting with President of Israel Reuven Rivlin,” March 16, 2016, Kremlin official website.)


I must confess that the Israeli prime minister has an influence over the Kremlin. He can get his way with many things including certain strategic issues.

The depth of the relationship can be measured from some of the words in the official reports of the Rivlin-Putin meeting; “a long-term relation” and a rooted connection in “culture and mentality” that brings this relation a “special dimension.” These are Putin's words.

Rivlin signaled Iran and its stems in the region rather than Daesh by saying, “We have to work together against the radical groups.”

It is no longer a secret that Russian-Iranian relations are melting away in many areas starting from the fight on influence in Damascus to the warming of Tehran-Washington ties. Thus I will cut it short.

The presidents of Israel and Russia met on the 16th. On March 18, the Turkish Foreign Ministry announced that there would be a visit from Tehran to Turkey. Javad Zarif, the Iranian foreign minister, landed in Ankara on March 19.

Zarif had extensive meetings in Ankara; he met Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in an hour-long meeting. This is unique. When Prime Minister Davutoğlu visited Iran, the decision “to not leave the fate of the region to other countries” was made.

Israel-Turkey relations? Those who are competent on the issue are saying that the ice has broken between the two countries, that agreements have already been signed, that the ambassadors will most probably return to their posts in April, and that “a special path” will be opened to Turkey in the blockade. They also tell us who should be walking on that path.

We can say that the Putin-Netanyahu relationship looks like the recent Erdoğan-Putin relationship. The consensus among the three is that Obama is the one who deformed this relation.

Therefore, although the three capital cities are trying to establish a balance among themselves, they are following the US presidential elections closely.


In the case of a possible Hillary Clinton presidency, the three countries will react differently. Israel hopes that its relations with the US will go into a more comfortable state as before. Russia, however, is hesitant. When the relationship is pondered through Europe and the Middle East, it is expected that they will not get along with an America with Clinton as president.

On the other hand, they believe that they could cooperate on China with the former US Foreign Minister Clinton who wrote, “The US's Pacific Century.”

The contrary would be terrible; it could bring an administration change in Moscow. Their relations with Israel can be destroyed and their relation with Turkey can be pushed toward a bi-polar unsteadiness.

Israel would want to continue its relations with Moscow, as its Iran obsession will continue under any circumstance.


Relying partially on Russia and fully on the US's support, Tehran does not believe that the Israel-Russia relationship will benefit it. Tehran knows what “a long-term relation” and a rooted connection in “culture and mentality” that brings this relation a “special dimension” means.

It knows what the oligarchs, elites and the Jewish inhabitants in Russia mean, and also knows that Putin underestimates Iran.

Nevertheless it will try to preserve its strategic relations with Russia and its technologic and resource relations with the West.

Terror has changed the agenda. We still have to discuss the “new” developments on the Iran-Saudi Arabia-Syria line.

Until then think about how these three countries will approach Ankara from their new position.

I suppose we should not overlook Russian Federation Council Director Valentina Matviyenko's statement, “Moscow is ready to normalize its relations with Ankara. But, we cannot get positive signals from Turkey.”


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