Middle East

A new Bermuda Triangle has been spotted, but this one is in the eastern Mediterranean -- between Turkey, Cyprus and Israel, observes Eric Walberg

Turkey’s foreign policy shift is now in full gear. Having kicked out the Israeli ambassador and rejected the UN Palmer Report, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu says that Turkey plans to take its case against Israel’s blockade of Gaza to the International Court of Justice, not alone, but with the support of the Arab League, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the African Union. “The process will probably reach a certain point in October and we will make our application.”

Israel’s refusal to say “I apologise” has already proved to be very expensive, and will continue to reverberate, not just in the hollow halls of the ICC, but off the shores of Israel itself, as Turkish warships accompany flotillas breaking the siege, and when Turkey begins drilling for gas in waters that Greek Cyprus and Israel have their eyes on. It will echo when Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who US International Trade Undersecretary Francisco Sanchez said was “like a rock star”, crosses the Rafah border to visit Gaza. No one can mistake Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu or Cypriot President Dimitris Christofias for Elton John.

Palestine’s move to become an independent state has benefitted from the growing BDS movement, as the world wakes up the enormous and unjust suffering of the Palestinian people, writes Eric Walberg

A new Boycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS) campaign was launched this summer by the United Church of Canada, which will try to persuade six companies operating in Canada — Caterpillar, Motorola, Ahava, Veolia, Elbit Systems and Chapters/Indigo — to stop supporting the Israeli occupation. “The Campaign follows similar campaigns launched some time ago by the US Presbyterian Church and the New England Conference of the United Methodist Church. We have launched ‘Occupied with Peace’ after almost two years of discernment and information gathering,” says spokesperson Jean Lee.

The latest Mumbai bombings were not obviously the work of Pakistani extremists, but reflect the unrest thanks to America’s continued reckless policies of escalation in the region, notes Eric Walberg

India has shown admirable restraint, refusing to accuse its Western neighbour following the triple bombing in India’s financial capital Mumbai last week which killed 19 people and injured 129. The area targetted, with its gem and precious-metal traders, witnessed bombings in 1993, 2004 and 2006, culminating in the November 2008 siege of Mumbai, in which 166 people died.

The drama now playing out on the high seas has captured the world’s hearts‭, ‬says‭ ‬Eric Walberg

The tiny Dignité/Karama‭, ‬sailing under a French flag‭, ‬left Corsica on 25‭ ‬June‭, ‬and has been chugged along for the past weeks mostly in Greek waters‭. ‬Its last stop was the Greek island Kastellorizo on Saturday‭, ‬after which it headed south‭. ‬The 16‭ ‬passengers‭ ‬onboard view themselves as representatives of the entire Freedom Flotilla II‭: ‬Stay Human‭. ‬The rest of the Flotilla’s ships have all been detained in Greek ports‭, ‬some sabotaged‭, ‬others on technicalities‭, ‬and when that failed‭ ‬—‭ ‬the withdrawal of their flags‭.‬

Is Turkey's new regional assertiveness yet another case of "the tail wagging the dog", wonders Eric Walberg

Turkey's foreign policy has changed dramatically since the collapse of the Soviet Union and the unrivalled ascendance of the US, Turkey's principal ally since its founding as a republic in 1923. Formerly, it acted as a proxy for US power in the region. As a member of NATO since 1952, it was a strategic Cold War foe of the Soviet Union. Turkey was the second Muslim nation (after Iran) to recognise Israel soon after it declared itself an independent state in 1948, and maintained close political and economic ties with that key Middle East ally of the US through thick and thin. Turkey was encouraged by the US to move into ex-Soviet Central Asia as it opened up after the collapse of the Soviet Union, with the goal of co-opting the Turkic-speaking "stans", bringing them into the Western fold by appealing to their Turkic heritage.

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Canadian Eric Walberg is known worldwide as a journalist specializing in the Middle East, Central Asia and Russia. A graduate of University of Toronto and Cambridge in economics, he has been writing on East-West relations since the 1980s.

He has lived in both the Soviet Union and Russia, and then Uzbekistan, as a UN adviser, writer, translator and lecturer. Presently a writer for the foremost Cairo newspaper, Al Ahram, he is also a regular contributor to Counterpunch, Dissident Voice, Global Research, Al-Jazeerah and Turkish Weekly, and is a commentator on Voice of the Cape radio.

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Eric's latest book The Canada Israel Nexus is available here http://www.claritypress.com/WalbergIV.html