Several days ago, I posted an entry regarding the Turkish government’s suggestion that it might soon become much more aggressive with regard to its naval presence in the Eastern Mediterranean. Now, the possibility of a Turkey-Israel naval clash has increased exponentially: Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan told Al Jazeera the Turkish Navy would begin to escort ships carrying aid to the Gaza Strip. If the always tempestuous Erdoğan goes through with the challenge, then Israel has two challenges: Allow unlimited Turkish (and Iranian and Syrian) aid to Hamas, or be willing to enforce the blockade (the legality of which the United Nation’s Palmer Commission affirmed) against the wishes of the Turkish navy.
It behooves the United States to diffuse tensions in the region. The best way to diffuse tension, however, is not to submit to the extortion of a fiercely anti-American prime minister, but rather to consider the status of a NATO member whose posture is not only questionable, but whose aggressive provocations ultimately could challenge the viability of NATO.