By Haider Abbas
Turkey president Tayyip Erdogan is in a clear ‘high-zone’ as the ceasefire between Armenia and Azerbaijan, mediated by Russia, has ultimately resulted to his rise, much more to the dislike of the Arab states and Israel , as Erdogan has called ‘Jerusalem is ours’ which is a challenge to Israel , according to TimesofIsrael on October 1, 2020 1 and by which Israel has ‘sold-well’ to Arab states that Turkey is likely to reclaim, what belonged to it a century back, as after all, all the Arab states were one a part of Turkish Empire along with Jerusalem and Israel was created out of Turkish Palestine. Arab states and Israel are therefore gung-ho against Turkey.
Turkey on its part is playing well and has rightly placed its ‘Trump’ card and has made its utmost ally Qatar, which it considers as its vicegerent, ask for F-35 stealth fighter jets from US, as it is US which has its largest military base in Qatar’s Al Udeid, which houses more than 10,000 US military men, and had thus, been serving the purposes of US as one of its staunchest ally in the entire Gulf-region. Will US provide Qatar with it? When it is yet to provide them to UAE, as what has come to light, is that the considered undercut-deal of US and UAE, in exchange of UAE-Israel embassies move, was the prized trophy of F-35 to UAE, which of course, Israel would never see happen, for the sake, that UAE air-force has a powerful Pakistan footprint and which would mean F-35 going into Pakistan hands and thereafter landing up in China. I wrote an elaborate article in CounterCurrents on August 25, 2020 2 ‘Israel will never allow Pakistan have access to UAE’s F-35.
Erdogan visited Qatar on October 7, 2020 and the next day, In.Reurters 3 informed about the formal request of Qatar to seek for F-35, thus throwing an open-ball in the US court, and US has not as yet refused. The most obvious opposition to it, as expected came from Israel, as Israel has to remain ‘superior’ in the region and so much so Israel was perturbed that its Intelligence Minister Eli Cohen satired on US to not to perceive Gulf-region as Switzerland , informed HindustanTimes on October 11. 2020 4 , where there is peace and tranquility, and therefore, never to comply to Qatar request. This came even when after US defence secretary Mike Esper had earlier committed that ‘US would ensure Israel military superiority in the Middle-East’ tells BusinessStandard on October 12, 2020 5 , thus now even if US goes ahead with its promise to UAE, it would mean, UAE’s F-35 of a less superior quality! Moreover, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) has also sought for the same, and which, Israel does not want to be realised either to UAE or KSA, elaborates an article ‘Why F-35 should never be released to the UAE and Saudi Arabia’, in BesaCenter.Org on September 3, 2020 6 .
Erdogan exactly wanted that Israel should come to oppose the request, as after all it wasn’t that late when Israel had celebrated the F-35 rollout, according to F35.com on June 22, 2016 7, as Israel just cannot imagine any of its neighbour trying to match its prowess. Erdogan wanted that with F-35 in UAE saddle, Turkish army will find exercising on it, and moreover, Turkey would provide it’s S-400 to Qatar too, and together with Turkish drones, which have played commendable in the Armenia-Azerbaijan war, Turkey would therefore enhance the entire defence system of Qatar, in case an attack happens on it from KSA, UAE side, which was again reiterated by Qatar defence minister Khalid Al Attiya on September 28, 2020 8 in MiddleEastEye.
Turkey has also been successful into driving a could point to Qatar, that in case US refuses, Qatar would have an alibi to have a different view towards the US Al Udeid military base. Turkey, has therefore, killed four birds in a shot! It has jeopardised KSA and UAE prospects towards F-35 and a US refusal or silence on it for Qatar would make it easy for Qatar to shift towards the Russian bloc! Russian entry into the Middle-East will be an absolute new opening, considering the US complete monopoly over the Arab states, coupled with a new and constant headache to Israel as well. The fourth aspect is that US will find an absolute new contender Russia and very soon China may join into too.
It might be quite early to speculate that US would vacate Al Udeid, but the possibility cannot be ruled out, as right now the superpower beleaguered US army has been forced out of Afghanistan, and tomorrow if Qatar places its priorities with Russia and China, as Turkey will make Pakistan join the fray to help consolidate Qatar, it would mark the beginning of a new equation of the proverbial new war of attrition in the Middle-East. Qatar, being such a formidable ally of US would nevertheless vouch for F-35, if US does it with UAE or KSA, or else then Qatar will have an open-options with Russian stealth SU-57 bombers and China’s J-31 bombers, which US allege China to have stolen from it, tells EconomicTimes, way back on November 13, 2015 9 .
Turkey is now clearly into throwing a gauntlet to Israel over the ‘Jerusalem’ claim. Arab states are die-hard against Turkey but the latent sentiment of the Arab populace is that 90% have negative feelings towards normalisation of ties with Israel, which began on August 14, 2020 (ten days after Beirut blasts) according to Israel Ministry of Strategic Affairs, on October 12, 2020 10. US is likely to tap into it to strategise a public uprising against the Arab regimes in the name of ‘New Arab Spring’ which in fact would be an Arab Autumn!
Meanwhile, it may be mentioned, that the prime reason why Arab states have started to fall like a ‘house of cards’, is that within 48 hours of Beirut, Lebanon blasts, US president Donald Trump, for twice said that the blasts were not an accident and likely caused by a bomb, as informed FirstPost on August 6, 2020 11 . Beirut Ex. Interior Minister Nohad Machnouk openly named Israel to have done it, reported AsiaTimes on August 13, 2020 12. Israel denied it. US referenced it (without naming anyone)! The message given was loud-and-deafening. The rest is the unfolding saga! Wonder, what the region has in-store after the US November 2020 elections are done with. ****
The writer is a former State Information Commissioner, India. He is a media analyst and writes on international politics.