Turkish Warships Head to Mediterranean
Date Posted: 2011-09-12
The Erdogan government sharply ratcheted up its threat of war on Israel Monday, Sept. 12 with a report that three Turkish Navy frigates are to sail for the eastern Mediterranean "to ensure freedom of navigation and confront Israeli warships if necessary."
As Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan was set to start a visit to Egypt, Turkish naval sources reported: "If Turkish warships encounter an Israeli military ship outside Israel's 12-mile territorial waters, they will advance up to 100 meters from the ship and disable its weapon system."
The threat bluntly applied to Israel's naval enforcement of its UN-approved blockade of the Gaza Strip.
Political sources in Washington and Jerusalem are profoundly concerned by four fraught developments unfolding this week - all capable of sending Israel's ties with Egypt and Turkey into another perilous tailspin:
1. The Turkish prime minister's Tahrir Square speech Monday afternoon. His anti- Israel campaign has drawn from the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood an enthusiastic welcome and the promise of a mass turnout. The MB declared the mob attack on the Israeli embassy a legitimate protest operation in defiance of the Egyptian government's position.
2. The Turkish prime minister said Sunday that his campaign against Israel has five stages of which only two have been implemented.
Word has reached Jerusalem that Erdogan is preparing more sanctions against Israel to be enforced in days. They include cutting off diplomatic ties, a ban on Turkish trade with the Jewish state and acquitting Turkish businesses and industrialists of their contractual obligations to Israel firms, including debts totaling $400 million.
3. Israel's government and military leaders worry that the Palestinian Jihad Islami terrorists lurking in Sinai for the past three weeks will choose this moment to strike - whether to kidnap Israelis still vacationing on its beaches or a cross- border attack in Israel. The gunmen have met no Egyptian military interference and they will no doubt be encouraged to take advantage of the incendiary climate generated by the Turkish prime minister and Cairo mob's sacking of the Israeli embassy.
The Palestinian group's Iranian and Hizballah sponsors will not miss the chance of further undermining Israeli security. Sunday night saw the first indications of trouble when an Israeli border patrol north of Eilat came under fire from Egyptian Sinai. No one was hurt but Israeli troops guarding that precarious border are more on their toes now than ever.
4. The Muslim Brothers, Hamas and other radical Palestinian organizations in Jordan have used Facebook to rally "a million-strong march" on the Israeli embassy in the Jordanian capital of Amman for Thursday evening, Sept. 15, to push for the expulsion of Israeli Ambassador Danny Nevo.
Jordan security forces are on alert to prevent the Israeli embassy sacking in Cairo from being repeated in Amman.