Lunch with Professor Inbar

June 18, 2010 by J-Wire Staff
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Professor Efraim Inbar is a professor of political studies at Israel’s Bar-Ilan University and is considered to be the foremost strategic analyst in Israel. He spoke yesterday to members of Sydney’s media

Israel’s relationship with Turkey is one subject on which he is highly regarded as an expert.

Professor Efraim Inbar

He told the meeting that Ataturk had done much to modernise Turkey during his period as president and that up until recently Turkey had perceived the Middle East as being corrupt. Ataturk had distanced his country from the Middle East becoming part of NATO during the Cold War. Turkey fought with the Americans in Korea. Inbar said: “In recent years we have seen a change in Turkish orientation and foreign policy”. He said that there had been a return to religion refuting Marx’s claim that religion was the opiate for the people and claiming that Marx underestimated the role it plays in international affairs.

In 2002, a resurgence of Islam in Turkey had lead to a change of government. Professor Inbar said that the successful re-election of the Government in 2007 had made the ruling factions “more confident in showing their true colours”, not just internationally but also domestically. He illustrated this by saying that one of his favourite restaurants in Instanbul which he visited three weeks ago no longer serves alcohol.

The professor told the meeting that Turkey remains the only NATO country which welcomed Iranian President Ahmadinejad on an official visit as well as one by President Oman al-Bashir of the Sudan…a man officially accused of war crimes in Darfur. Turkey is the only NATO country which has not invoked sanctions against Iran.He pointed out that Turkey had shown a reluctance to identify too closely with the United States in 2003 by refusing to open up a front against Iraq.

He went into detail about changes of processes in Turkey as how the Islamists have infiltrated the police and as to how the nomination process for the courts’ judges had been affected as well as the attitude of the Turkish people towards accession to the European Market.

Professor Inbar said that Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan “is comfortable in the shouks in Damascus and Teheran and is culturally closer to the Middle East. He pointed out that the Turkish Prime Minister does not speak English and said that “there has been a clear distancing of Turkey from the West in recent years”.

According to Professor Inbar, Turkey’s relations with Israel today reflect this type of policy. He said: “Today we see Turkey siding with Hamas and Iran which are radical forces in the Middle East and have indicated support for Hezbollah. This is of great concern because Turkey is an important country and one of the largest in the Middle East and have the largest army in NATO with the exception of the United States.”

He pointed out that there was a shift of the balance of power in the Middle East, pointing out that whereas Turkey did not have energy sources it was acting as a bridge to Europe with massive pipelines, especially to Russia passing through its borders indicating a rising alliance between Turkey, Russia and Iran. According to the professor, during the cold war, Turkey had served as a buffer between Russia and the Middle East

Inbar said that the news was not all bad. He said: “There could be change through the democratic process. The Republican Party in Tyrkey is becoming more popular and the current government is losing much of its support in the Turkish streets.”

Inbar called for international observers to monitor Turkey’s next elections which are scheduled for July next year as the current administration “is not committed to democracy”.

Iran was his next point of focus. He said that the country was “not impressed with the new sanctions.” He said it takes time for economic sanctions to have an impact nd added “I am not sure if we have that much time at our disposal.” Iran is committed to build a bomb which is seen primarily as an insurance policy for the survival of the regime. He pointed out that American influence in the region towards the establishment of democracy was denied to Pakistan as it may have have produced a rise in power of “some very nasty people close to the button”.

He reminded the journalists that the regime in Iran remains in power not there at the will of the people. He said “the Iraninan are not sensitive to sanctions” citing the survival of the Castro and Saddam Hussein regimes’ survival under sanctions.

Professor Inbar said that “Israel felt alone in this world” adding that other countries took a nonchalant view of Iran.

He spent some time discussing the theocratic aspects of Middle East countries saying that from his viewpoint if being a religious person,all religious texts were open to interpretation by political leader and that it was this interpretation which drove polices…good and bad although he said “there is no clear distinction between religion and State in Israel”.

He was asked about Turkey’s relations with Israel in the wake of the Gaza Flotilla Incident and replied that there were many elements in Turkey critical of Prime Minister Erdogan’s statements stating that open debate followed anti-Semitic statements made by the Prime Minister questioning if it was appropriate. He also pointed out that Turkish media had published photographs of the Israeli commandos being attacked that were not published by Israel. He said: “There are strong elements in Turkish society whuch are critical of Erdogan’s relations with Israel and the West”.

He said whereas many Turkish voters found it difficult to come to terms with a NATO Government that could condone the activities of groups which may have connections to al-Qaeda he also pointed out there was an element who might be thinking along the lines of the rebirth of the Ottoman Empire. He said “they want to lead the Muslim world”.

He said the Arab world understood the power of Turkey and that “are scared”.

J-Wire asked Professor Inbar if Israel would continue to sell military equipment to Turkey if the situation continued to deteriorate. He said: “We have already decided not to sell anything to the Turks. We do not want Israeli technology to reach Iran. Deals underway may be concluded in Europe but not in Turkey.”

He then discussed the Obama administration saying it was viewed “as being very weak.” He said Obama’s willingness to engage factions in the Middle East is “a sign of weakness”. He got it wrong from the very beginning. The engagements with Syria and Iran was not successful and made things worse for Israeli-Palestinan tract. He could not deliver….so the proximity talks are a step the Israelis and Palestinians take to please Obama.

He said: “The issue is whether or not the Palestinian national movement is ready for compromise. Israel through Barak and Olmert have offered very good deals in the past.”

“The Palestinians are failures in State-building.”

The lunch was hosted by The Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council.

Israel’s relationship with Turkey is one subject on which he is highly regarded as an expert.

Professor Efraim Inbar

He told the meeting that Ataturk had done much to modernise Turkey during his period as president and that up until recently Turkey had perceived the Middle East as being corrupt. Ataturk had distanced his country from the Middle East becoming part of NATO during the Cold War. Turkey fought with the Americans in Korea. Inbar said: “In recent years we have seen a change in Turkish orientation and foreign policy”. He said that there had been a return to religion refuting Marx’s claim that religion was the opiate for the people and claiming that Marx underestimated the role it plays in international affairs.

In 2002, a resurgence of Islam in Turkey had lead to a change of government. Professor Inbar said that the successful re-election of the Government in 2007 had made the ruling factions “more confident in showing their true colours”, not just internationally but also domestically. He illustrated this by saying that one of his favourite restaurants in Instanbul which he visited three weeks ago no longer serves alcohol.

The professor told the meeting that Turkey remains the only NATO country which welcomed Iranian President Ahmadinejad on an official visit as well as one by President Oman al-Bashir of the Sudan…a man officially accused of war crimes in Darfur. Turkey is the only NATO country which has not invoked sanctions against Iran.He pointed out that Turkey had shown a reluctance to identify too closely with the United States in 2003 by refusing to open up a front against Iraq.

He went into detail about changes of processes in Turkey as how the Islamists have infiltrated the police and as to how the nomination process for the courts’ judges had been affected as well as the attitude of the Turkish people towards accession to the European Market.

Professor Inbar said that Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan “is comfortable in the shouks in Damascus and Teheran and is culturally closer to the Middle East. He pointed out that the Turkish Prime Minister does not speak English and said that “there has been a clear distancing of Turkey from the West in recent years”.

According to Professor Inbar, Turkey’s relations with Israel today reflect this type of policy. He said: “Today we see Turkey siding with Hamas and Iran which are radical forces in the Middle East and have indicated support for Hezbollah. This is of great concern because Turkey is an important country and one of the largest in the Middle East and have the largest army in NATO with the exception of the United States.”

He pointed out that there was a shift of the balance of power in the Middle East, pointing out that whereas Turkey did not have energy sources it was acting as a bridge to Europe with massive pipelines, especially to Russia passing through its borders indicating a rising alliance between Turkey, Russia and Iran. According to the professor, during the cold war, Turkey had served as a buffer between Russia and the Middle East

Inbar said that the news was not all bad. He said: “There could be change through the democratic process. The Republican Party in Tyrkey is becoming more popular and the current government is losing much of its support in the Turkish streets.”

Inbar called for international observers to monitor Turkey’s next elections which are scheduled for July next year as the current administration “is not committed to democracy”.

Iran was his next point of focus. He said that the country was “not impressed with the new sanctions.” He said it takes time for economic sanctions to have an impact nd added “I am not sure if we have that much time at our disposal.” Iran is committed to build a bomb which is seen primarily as an insurance policy for the survival of the regime. He pointed out that American influence in the region towards the establishment of democracy was denied to Pakistan as it may have have produced a rise in power of “some very nasty people close to the button”.

He reminded the journalists that the regime in Iran remains in power not there at the will of the people. He said “the Iraninan are not sensitive to sanctions” citing the survival of the Castro and Saddam Hussein regimes’ survival under sanctions.

Professor Inbar said that “Israel felt alone in this world” adding that other countries took a nonchalant view of Iran.

He spent some time discussing the theocratic aspects of Middle East countries saying that from his viewpoint if being a religious person,all religious texts were open to interpretation by political leader and that it was this interpretation which drove polices…good and bad although he said “there is no clear distinction between religion and State in Israel”.

He was asked about Turkey’s relations with Israel in the wake of the Gaza Flotilla Incident and replied that there were many elements in Turkey critical of Prime Minister Erdogan’s statements stating that open debate followed anti-Semitic statements made by the Prime Minister questioning if it was appropriate. He also pointed out that Turkish media had published photographs of the Israeli commandos being attacked that were not published by Israel. He said: “There are strong elements in Turkish society whuch are critical of Erdogan’s relations with Israel and the West”.

He said whereas many Turkish voters found it difficult to come to terms with a NATO Government that could condone the activities of groups which may have connections to al-Qaeda he also pointed out there was an element who might be thinking along the lines of the rebirth of the Ottoman Empire. He said “they want to lead the Muslim world”.

He said the Arab world understood the power of Turkey and that “are scared”.

J-Wire asked Professor Inbar if Israel would continue to sell military equipment to Turkey if the situation continued to deteriorate. He said: “We have already decided not to sell anything to the Turks. We do not want Israeli technology to reach Iran. Deals underway may be concluded in Europe but not in Turkey.”

He then discussed the Obama administration saying it was viewed “as being very weak.” He said Obama’s willingness to engage factions in the Middle East is “a sign of weakness”. He got it wrong from the very beginning. The engagements with Syria and Iran was not successful and made things worse for Israeli-Palestinan tract. He could not deliver….so the proximity talks are a step the Israelis and Palestinians take to please Obama.

He said: “The issue is whether or not the Palestinian national movement is ready for compromise. Israel through Barak and Olmert have offered very good deals in the past.”

“The Palestinians are failures in State-building.”

The lunch was hosted by The Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council.

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