Turkey Becomes an Arena For Israel-Iran Terror Acts

Published June 27th, 2022 - 04:01 GMT
A view of Istanbul
A view of Istanbul (AFP)

Turkey may become the next arena for settling the deadly scores heightened between Iran and Israel. Turkish president Recep Tayeb Erdogan should watch out carefully what is happening in his own backyard before he continues to embark on redeveloping relations in the Middle East region. He and the Turkish government ought develop a "softly-softly" approach to courting allies and befriending foes because it is not all honkey-dory on the horizons beyond. 


Istanbul's recent theater of war scenario in which Turkish-Israeli intelligence officers snuffed out so-called potential Iranian operatives sent to kill Israeli tourists and diplomats in broad-day light points to dangerous developments for the region as the spiking tempos between Tel Aviv and Tehran show both capitals are prepared to escalate tensions regardless of the regional playground area and where ever that maybe. 

The arrest of Iranians with some saying five, others putting the figures at eight and even 10 on the streets of Istanbul may show Turkey and possibly its cities like Istanbul are under threat and may well soon become "theaters of war" for Israel and Iran. This latest action is a tit-for-tat act that actually started by the Israelis when last May their agents gunned down an Iranian Revolutionary Guard officer outside his home in Tehran. Colonel Hassan Sayyed Khodaei, was a non-nuclear scientist as was the case with top chief Mohsen Fakhrizadeh who was killed by Israeli agents in Iran in November 2020.


 However, Khodaei was responsible for Iranian operations in the Middle East and mainly Syria as circulated from reports that he was killed by Israeli intelligence though as usual Tel Aviv never owns up. 


The continuing fight between Israel and Iran is bound to continue for a long-time because of the different security interests of the two states in the region and their undying competition and rivalry across the Middle East focused in Syria, Lebanon because of Hezbollah and have reached to as far as Iraq and Kurdistan and were reports of Mossad operatives there have been subjected to Iranian targeting in the past few months.

Thus for Turkey to get involved in such a rivalry would surely lower its security potential and allow it to become a target not only by Iranian operatives but Israeli counter-intelligence.


As well, for its intelligence service to be so open about working with its Israeli counterpart as was the case in the last operations where it is claimed Iranian cells where found in the popular Beyoglu district of Istanbul  is a blemish on a country such as Turkey that has always sought to distance itself, particularly in the 10 years, from Israel because of the latter's adventurist tactics and killing of 9 Turkish boat activists in 2010 who tried to break the siege on Gaza through a humanitarian flotilla. 


Today, Turkey is seeking to play an adventurist role of its own by extending its hand to Israel through not only by positioning itself as a tourists hub for Jews but also be seeking to restore its diplomatic relations to the level of ambassadors, a situation that existed prior to 2018, the cut-off year when the then US president Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and moved its American Embassy there from Tel Aviv.  


This might be all water under the bridge now as both Turkey and Israel seek to improve their ties. At the time when Ankara announced it arrested the Iranian intelligence officers, at least two of whom were other nationals working for them, the Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu was receiving his Israeli counterpart Yair Lapid. Both were congratulating themselves on the success of the latest counter-intelligence of operation in Istanbul which many reports suggest the Israeli Mossad had a strong hand in directing and pointing to the houses where the arrests were made. 


Lapid's visit was in exchange to Cavusoglu's trip to Israel the previous month, the first made by a Turkish Foreign Minister in 15 years, and it was topped before by the visit of the Israeli President Isaac Herzog to Ankara last March where he met with President Erdogan and other top Turkish officials. The visit was aimed to improve and normalize previous frosty relations between the two countries. 


Israeli government ministers, including its Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has been making their diplomatic rounds to different Arab countries, including Jordan, UAE and Egypt ever since June 2021 when the new Tel Aviv government came into power and replacing long-time and long-term Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The fact that the government is now facing early elections is neither her nor there because the external relations will continue to follow a path aimed at greater normalization with the surrounding countries.


Last week's arrests in Istanbul has angered the Tehran government who explicitly denied any wrongdoings in Turkey and stated through its Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzade that Israel is trying to drive a wedge between Muslim countries such as Turkey and Iran and that what was happening was a "ridiculous fabricated scenario". 


Be that as it may, Ankara initially put off a visit that was to be made by Iran's Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian but it went ahead at the final moment to explain their position clearly in the last spy affair allegedly aimed at killing Israelis through operatives which reports say they came into Istanbul disguised as businessmen, tourists and students. 


One thing is for certain however, Israel is likely to be in the driving seat from now on with regards to its relationship with Turkey and this is likely to be satisfactory for Ankara, which relies on its large tourist sector, and eager for Israeli tourists to return after being told by their government a few weeks ago Turkey should be avoided as a destination because of the growing intelligence reports about Iranian threats on their lives. Reality, make-belief or fiction, it is to be wondered. 

 


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