Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan this week coolly moved his country step by provocative step towards an armed clash with Israel – not just over the Palestinian issue, but because he covets the gas and oil resources of the eastern Mediterranean opposite Israel's shores.

Thursday night, Sept. 8, he announced that Turkish warships will escort any Turkish aid vessels for Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. In his remarks to Al Jazeera television, the Turkish prime minister also said he had taken steps "to stop Israel from unilaterally exploiting natural resources from the eastern Mediterranean."

He did not say what steps he had taken. However, for some time now, he has moved mountains to isolate Israel by drawing a double diplomatic noose around it.

If Turkish ships breach the Israeli naval blockade of Gaza, which a UN report last week pronounced legitimate under international law, Erdogan will become the first Muslim leader to embark on military action in the Palestinian cause. The Arab nations which fought Israel time after time in the past will be made to look ineffectual and the Turkish leader the regional big shot. Even Iran would be put in the shade for never daring to provoke Israel the way Turkey has.

The Turkish prime minister clings to the belief that the foremost Arab powers, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, which have been watching his maneuvers with deep suspicion, will have no choice but to play ball with him now that he has confronted Israel. The first crack in the Arab ice came about Thursday, Sept. 8, in the form of Egyptian consent to join the Turkish Navy in sea maneuvers in the eastern Mediterranean.

Erdogan plans to send his warships into this water for two missions:
1. To split the Israel's small Navy into two heads – one for sustaining the blockade against Gaza and one for safeguarding the gas and oil rigs opposite its shores.

2.  To scare Israel into the full or partial stoppage of its offshore oil and gas operations, thereby robbing it of energy power status and substantial economic gains. Erdogan is determined never to let Israel overshadow Turkey in the regional stakes and will put a stop to the Jewish state's progress – even if military aggression is called for.

DEBKAfile's military sources report that the Turkish prime minister is resolved to corner Israel into an inescapable military confrontation. It might not happen at once or even within a week, but it will happen a lot sooner than many Israeli politicians and military chiefs imagine because he is using Israel as his ticket to regional prestige.

Erdogan is driven to assert Turkey's importance additionally by the way he was shouldered aside in Libya. Ankara invested heavily in its support for the Libyan rebels. But when British, French, Jordanian and Qatari special forces stormed Tripoli on Aug. 21 and overthrew the Qaddafi regime, Turkey was left behind and forgotten in the heat of the action.

From Ankara, the Turkish leader watches the sharing out of Libyan oil as the spoils of war among the Western powers and Qatar as an outsider.

Since he can't pluck up courage to intervene in Syria, he has plumped for seizing eastern Mediterranean natural resources to elevate Turkey's standing. Not only will he snatch the treasure out of Israel's hands but no less important, he will challenge his country's traditional rival Greece whose military ties with Israel are growing stronger.

As for Washington, Erdogan is counting on President Barack Obama's backing in a military clash with Israel. Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak are less confident of US support. This gives Turkey an edge in a conflict – the cost of the passive military policy pursued consistently by Israeli leaders in the face of security threats.

The Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas will also suffer if Turkey and Israel come to blows by being overshadowed.



On August 6 I posted an article "Let's Talk Turkey".  Turkey had slapped more sanctions on Israel after the UN Palmer Report demonstrated Israel's blockade is legitimate/legal,  This Report displeased Turkey to no end, refusing to acknowledge their part in the May 2010 Mavi Marmara flotilla incident to breach Israel's naval blockade to Gaza.  As the UN Report has demonstrated, the nation of Israel has every right to defend her borders.

A good analysis can be found (below) posted by Michael G. Bard:

MYTH"The United Nations repudiated the claim that Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza is legal." topFACTOn September 2, 2011, the United Nations released its investigative report concerning the May 2010 Mavi Marmara flotilla that tried to breach Israel's naval blockade of the Gaza Strip. The UN Palmer Committee, led by former New Zealand prime minister Sir Geoffrey Palmer, examined the facts, circumstances and context that surrounded the deadly conflagration off Gaza's coast and submitted findings on the international legitimacy and legality of Israel's continued blockade of the Hamas-run enclave. Despite attempts by many media outlets to bury the findings and highlight only the parts that criticized the Jewish state, Palmer's report adopted conclusions that vindicated Israel's positions concerning the blockade and placed the responsibility for the confrontation on the "humanitarian" groups that formed the flotilla.
The 105-page report, which relied heavily on Israel's internal investigation into the incident as well as accounts from flotilla participants, concluded that Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip is consistent with customary international law, is legitimate due to the security threat posed by Hamas and does not constitute collective punishment of Palestinians in Gaza.589"Israel faces a real threat to its security from militant groups in Gaza....The naval blockade was imposed as a legitimate security measure to prevent weapons from entering Gaza by sea," the report concluded. Palmer also affirmed Israel's legal right to stop and board the vessels.
"Israeli Defense Forces faced significant, organized and violent resistance from a group of passengers when they boarded Mavi Marmara requiring them to use force for their protection. Three soldiers were captured, mistreated, and placed at risk [and] several others wounded," the report stated.
While the UN committee stated that the Israeli soldiers acted responsibly in defending themselves against the self-proclaimed IHH peace activists - armed with clubs, knives, and steel pipes - it also reprimanded Israel for boarding the ship without prior notice and using "excessive and unnecessary force." Israel took issue with this conclusion and reiterated its regret at the loss of life during the incident.590The United Nations has now officially stated that Israel's two-year naval blockade is legal and legitimate. To protect its citizens from the continued threat of arms smuggling by HamasIsrael has the ongoing responsibility to inspect any cargo that enters Gaza. It is Hamas and its supporters - not Israel's blockade -that pose the greatest danger to peace and security in the region.
The report criticized the flotilla's organizers and questioned their "true nature and objectives, particularly IHH [that] planned in advance to violently resist any boarding attempt."
Regarding Turkey, Palmer's report said that "not enough was done to inform the flotilla participants of the risks." Moreover, states like Turkey have "a responsibility to take proactive steps" to warn flotilla participants and "to endeavor to dissuade them" from challenging Israel's naval blockade.
The Palmer report also contradicted human rights groups' claim that a humanitarian crisis exists in Gaza. Anyone wanting to send humanitarian aid to Gaza, the report said, must do so in coordination with Israel and thePalestinian Authority through the land crossings.591see more ...