The reconciliation agreement announced Monday, June 27 for restoring full normalization between Israel and Turkey after six years of animosity will restart intelligence and security cooperation between the two countries and entail joint military exercises, and investments in energy and defense.
debkafile’s security experts evaluate the deal as offering a valuable and timely increment for Israeli’s national interests on eight scores:
1. It fits neatly into the current joint Saudi-Egyptian bid for Israel to bolster their emerging alliance with Turkey that is designed for drawing a Sunni line against Iran’s expansionist moves in the Horn of Africa, the Red Sea, the Straits of Aqaba and in uncomfortable proximity to the Mediterranean shores of Israel and Egypt.
2. It is designed as the forerunner of a series of interlocking deals. debkafile can disclose that the next bilateral accord expected to be concluded is a reconciliation agreement between Turkey and Egypt for Presidents Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Abdel-Fatteh El-Sisi to bury the hatchet. In at least one respect, this ont will be modeled on the Turkish deal with Israel: Turkey is committed not to let Hamas act against Israel from its soil and, by the same token, not to permit Hamas’s parent and El-Sisi’s archenemy, the Muslim Brotherhood, operate from Turkey.
3. In this regard, Egypt and Turkey will maintain intelligence cooperation.
4. The bilateral intelligence mechanisms to be set up between Turkey and Israel and Turkey and Egypt will pool their input on Iran.
5. This key aspect of the renewed cooperation between Ankara and Jerusalem lends it a military-intelligence dimension rather than that of a diplomatic protocol. This dimension finds expression in the decision to devolve its implementation not on the holders of political office but the heads of the military-intelligence services of the two countries.
IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gady Eisenkot, to whom the head of military intelligence defers, will in fact be in charge of these exchanges, as well as the joint military exercises which are in the active planning stage.
Realizing he had been passed over for this important facet of cooperation with Turkey, Israel’s new defense minister Avigdor Lieberman announced he was opposed to the deal. This was treated as no more than a token protest that will not impede it.
6. Jordan has been slated as another member of the new alliance. King Abdullah is currently in the process of quietly dismantling the Muslim Brotherhood networks in his kingdom. Many of is members belong to the Palestinian Hamas.
7. Under the agreement, Israel and Turkey will begin formal talks to build a gas pipeline between the two countries, through which Israel might sell its natural gas, with Turkish assistance, to Europe.
debkafile rates this provision as fundamental to the entire process and of cardinal importance to both their interests. Israel is in need of a major client to boost the development of its offshore gas fields, whereas Turkey wants to be that client and, at the same time, Russia is after a piece of the energy bonanza and most of all a contract to build the pipeline to Europe.
Up until recently, Israel put up a keep out sign for Moscow, mainly under pressure from Washington. But in recent months the conversations between Binyamin Netanyahu and Vladimir Putin have progressed into an inclusive strategic dialogue on Middle East issues, especially on Syria. This opened the door to a Russian role being broached in the export of Israeli gas.
8. This role took another step forward Monday. On the table now is Israeli-Turkish-Russian military and intelligence collaboration for securing the Israeli offshore gas in the Mediterranean – a prospect that brought the Turkish president to finally apologize for his air force downing a Russian Su-24M bomber over the Syrian-Turkish border on Nov. 24, 2015.
For the sake of these promising relations, Turkey was ready to offer compensation in the case of the dead pilot, just as Israel agreed to pay compensation for the nine Turks killed in a clash with Israeli troops during an illicit attempt too breach Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip.
Israeli-Turkish-Russian cooperation and goodwill for their mutual benefit on the gas issue may also generate joint efforts in other spheres too.