For the first time, the IDF has added Turkey to the list of security threats Israel faces in annual security assessment.
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF), for the first time ever, added Turkey to the list of security threats in the annual national security assessment.
At the same time the IDF doesn’t see a confrontation with the Turkish army in 2020.
The addition of Turkey - a country that maintains diplomatic relations with Israel and once was an ally of the Jewish state - to the list of security threats is related to the bellicose actions by Turkish dictator Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the Middle East the IDF said in the assessment.
Erdogan routinely denounces Israel for its policies toward the Palestinian Arabs and uses to compare the country to Nazi-Germany while also threatening Israel over a plan to build a pipeline in the Mediterranean Sea that would bring Israeli gas from the Leviathan gas field to Europe.
The Turkish leader last month signed a memorandum with Libya about the linking of their so-called economic zones in the Mediterranean Sea.
The deal that was clearly meant to prevent Israel, Greece and Cyprus from realizing their plan for the construction of the pipeline and to claim the expected gas reserves in these zones.
"Other international actors cannot conduct exploration activities in the areas marked in the Turkish-Libyan memorandum. Greek Cypriots, Egypt, Greece and Israel cannot establish a natural gas transmission line without Turkey's consent," Erdogan said after Israel signed the gas pipe deal with Greece and Cyprus.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry later summoned the Israeli ambassador in Ankara to tell him that the construction of the gas pipeline required Turkey’s approval and that there was no need for the pipe since there is already a similar pipe line from Azerbaijan to Turkey and from there to Europe.
Erdogan recently also intervened in the Libyan civil war and after sending drones and armored vehicles to the UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) has now deployed 2.000 Islamist fighters of the Syrian National Army (formerly the Free Syrian Army) in Libya.
One of these Syrian fighters said in a post on social media that they were in Libya to " defend Islam".
In the meantime, 14 Syrian Islamists have died in the violence and their bodies have been flown back to Syria.
Erdogan sent only 35 servicemen of the Turkish army to Libya who don’t participate in the fighting but only have an advising role.
They are assisting the GNA’s army which is backed by Turkey, Italy and Qatar while the opposition forces of General Khalifa Haftar are supported by Russia, via mercenaries of the Kremlin-linked Wagner company, Egypt, Jordan, France, and the United Arab Emirates.
Russia and Turkey tried to avoid a confrontation between the Turkish-backed Syrian Islamists and the Russian mercenaries and to stave off an imminent offensive by Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) which is besieging Tripoli since April last year, by organizing a summit over a ceasefire.
Haftar, however, after negotiations refused to sign the proposed draft deal saying it didn’t meet his demands (or those of his backers) and returned to Libya.
His behavior infuriated Erdogan who told the Turkish parliament that he wouldn’t refrain from giving "Haftar the lesson he deserves" while he expressing his dismay with Russian President Vladimir Putin who he said needed to deliver Haftar’s signature.
The fighting in Libya has now reportedly resumed ahead of another peace conference in Berlin next week.
Then there is Erdogan’s meddling in Syria where he’s backing Islamist rebel groups in the Idlib Province and where he has already staged three interventions that were conducted under the fig leaf that Turkey needed to create so-called ‘de-escalation zones’ or ‘safe zones’ where most of the 3.5 million Syrian refugees in Turkey would be re-located.
In reality, Erdogan wanted to drive the Kurds out of the autonomous region Rojova along the Turkish border in Syria and by doing so he committed ethnic cleansing since he re-populates the seized region with Syrian Sunni Arabs.
After the Russian-backed pro-Assad coalition started to make advances in Idlib causing 400.000 Sunni Syrians to abandon their homes and to flee in the direction of the Turkish border, Erdogan worked with Putin to achieve a ceasefire that proved to be very shaky.
Addressing the Turkish parliament on Tuesday, the Turkish tyrant issued a stark warning to Assad not to violate the new ceasefire.
Turkey is determined to prevent Assad regime attacks in violation of the truce. Everyone should see and accept this is no joke. Turkey will absolutely do whatever it says it will do," said Erdogan to cheers from his AKP party members.
This all is taking place while the crackdown on Erdogan’s Turkish opponents continues.
Human Rights Watch just published a shocking report about the persecution and detention of people who have ‘insulted’ Erdogan or wrote critical about his policies.
"Between 2010 and 2017, 12,893 cases of insulting the president were filed with 12,305 being filed by lawyers representing Erdogan,” HRW reported.
“Tens of thousands of people have been jailed pending trial and some 150,000 civil servants, military personnel and others sacked or suspended from their jobs as part of a crackdown by the Turkish government following the July 15, 2016 coup attempt,” the report said.
“An estimated 8,500 people, including elected politicians and journalist, remain in prison on remand or following conviction for alleged links with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an armed group that has been at war in Turkey for over three decades,” according to HRW.
“Turkish authorities continue to block websites and order the removal of online content while thousands of people in the country face criminal investigations, prosecutions, and convictions for their social media posts,” the human rights organization reported.
If this sounds familiar to you because it reminds us of other dictatorial regimes such as the one in Iran the similarities don’t stop here.
Erdogan just introduced new legislation based on the Sharia, the Islamic law, Al-Monitor reported.
For the first time in the history of Turkey, “there will be religious rules in the public sphere” according to the news site.
“The Turkish government set out Islamic directives to regulate inspections on interest-free finance. Independent auditing firms will have to obey Islamic rules and established Islamic practices while inspecting the interest-free financial institutions,” according to Al-Monitor.