When considering the geo-political map of the current Middle East, not everything is negative or alarming, at least from an Israeli point of view. Although the Middle East is more splintered today than ever before, Israel’s political and diplomatic isolation in the region has faded. The Middle East is now composed of three main blocs and Israel is a partner with one major bloc, which also happens to be its immediate neighbors, or the inner circle of moderate-Sunni and hitherto pro-American Arab states: Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the Emirates. However, what is counter-intuitive is the Obama administration’s choice of partners in the region. It is not the moderate Sunni-Muslim states and Israel that Washington sought out as mediators for a Hamas-Israel cease-fire, but the Muslim Brotherhood bloc of Turkey and Qatar.
David Ben Gurion, Israel’s first Prime Minister and one of the founding fathers of the Jewish State recognized early on that the State of Israel had no chance to develop friendly relations with its neighboring Arab states. Pan-Arab leaders such as Egypt’s president Gamal Abdul Nasser fanned the flames of hatred and revenge against the Jewish state, as did fellow Arab dictators in Syria and elsewhere. As a result, Israel’s leadership sought to develop friendly relations with its outer-circle non-Arab states such as Iran, Ethiopia, and Turkey.
The rise of the Islamic Republic in Iran under Khomeini following the Iranian revolution in 1979, and the departure of the Israel-friendly Shah of Iran ended Israeli-Iranian relations. Iran became the arms supplier of Israel’s Palestinian enemies and Hezbollah in Lebanon, and with its nuclear ambition, it constitutes an existential threat to the Jewish State.
Turkey was the only Muslim state to have a steady and rather friendly relationship with the Jewish state. Until the electoral triumph of the AK Party (Justice and Development Party) in 2002, Israel’s trade and military cooperation with Turkey was significant to both countries. The AK Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan changed all of that. His hostility to Israel intensified with each successive electoral victory. Following his second parliamentary victory in 2007, he began tangling with Israel. In late May 2010, Erdogan gave the green light to a Gaza flotilla headed by the Mavi Marmara. It was a deliberate provocation by Erdogan to break through the Israeli blocade. The subsequent AK victory in the 2011 parliamentary elections increased Erdogan’s arrogance and simultaneously his anti-Israel and anti-Semitic outbursts. His latest 2014 presidential victory and his unmitigated support for Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood severed the special relations Israel has had with Turkey.
Turkey is, in fact, part of the radical Sunni, pro-Muslim Brotherhood bloc, that includes Qatar and Hamas.
The radical Shia bloc led by Iran, which includes Shiite Iraq, the Assad regime in Syria, and the Hezbollah in Lebanon, comprise the third bloc.
The puzzling question is why Washington chose to align itself with the Sunni radical Muslim Brotherhood bloc (Qatar and Turkey), and not with the more moderate bloc led by Egypt and Saudi Arabia? Both the Egyptian regime under President Abdel Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and the Saudi royals are upset with the Obama administration. Cairo resents Washington’s support for the deposed Muslim Brotherhood President Mohammad Morsi. Washington withheld arms delivery to Egypt because it considered Morsi’s removal illegitimate, albeit, over 30 million Egyptians demanded Morsi’s removal because of his gross mismanagement of the economy, his authoritarian style, his promotion of sectorial Brotherhood ideals and the erosion of civil liberties.
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