For years, Turkey has had a strong bilateral relationship with the Israelis. This was very important as Turkey was both a NATO and a Moslem nation. However, under Turkey’s current more-Islamicist leader, Turkish-Israeli relationships have experienced a distinct chill. This chill has just grown worse. In keeping with past practice, Turkey had been scheduled to host a joint military exercise with NATO and Israeli forces. However, Turkey refused to allow the Israelis to participate in this year’s exercise (see first link). As a result of Turkey’s refusal to allow an Israeli participation, the USA and Italy pulled out of the exercise which has now been cancelled. According to media reports, Turkey is upset with the Israelis because of the recent Israeli military action in Gaza. Whatever the reason, this has put a chill on not only Israeli-Turkish relations, but NATO-Turkish relations as well.

The second link reports that Turkey has also conducted a small military joint-exercise with Syrian forces. This is worrisome as Syria is an ally of Iran. The second link also offers an analysis that Turkey wants to improve relationships with Syria in order to help prevent the infiltration of Kurdish rebels into Turkey from Syrian locations. This is understandable, but it highlights a double-standard on Turkey’s action vis a vis the Israelis.

One could ask how long Turkey would have held off on military action if hundreds (or thousands) of Kurdish missiles based in Syria had been fired at Turkish cities? I’ll bet Turkey would have retaliated quickly if such attacks were regular and not restrained by Syrian forces. However, hundreds (or thousands) of missiles were fired at Israeli cities from locations in Gaza, and Israel had every right to finally take action to defend itself as Hamas refused to stop the missile attacks.

Turkey is a very important nation in the NATO alliance due to its large and capable military forces as well as its strategic position which allows NATO to block Russian naval access between the Black and Mediterranean Seas.  Let us hope that this Turkish chill toward the Israelis and the internal spat within NATO are both temporary in nature. Ezekiel 38 does not list Turkey as a member of the Gog-Magog alliance by name, in my viewpoint. I see Turkey as an Edomite nation descended from Esau (who was also named Edom), a son of the biblical patriarch, Isaac. Genesis 36 gives us the names of the tribes which descended from Edom, and the tribe of Teman was one of the more prominent ones as the land of Esau was named after the Temanites (Genesis 36:34). The consonants of Teman are T-M-N, the same consonants that appear in the name of the “Ottoman” (TT-M-N) Empire, the previous name of Turkey. No nation descended from Shem or Abraham is named as a part of the Gog-Magog alliance in Ezekiel 38, and if Turkey is descended from Abraham and Isaac, it would argue that Turkey will remain part of the western alliance in the latter days. Let us hope that this proves to be the case, but this situation requires careful watching. If Turkey were to drop out of NATO, it would greatly weaken the NATO alliance.