Joint Saudi-Turkey action on Syria and Yemen planned

Updated 13 April 2016

Joint Saudi-Turkey action on Syria and Yemen planned

ANKARA/JEDDAH: The visit of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman to Ankara for the Organization of Islamic Cooperation summit will be a key opportunity for bilateral talks on pressing issues in the region, especially Syria.
This is the view of Younes Demirar, Turkey’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia, who told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper during a telephonic interview from Ankara on Sunday that the talks would also focus on terrorism, particularly Daesh.
He said Riyadh and Ankara share the same views on all regional issues, including on Syria and Yemen.
The summit would help the two sides produce a joint strategy on how to deal with challenges in these countries, particularly a political solution for Syria.
Meanwhile, Turkish Minister of Culture and Tourism Maher Onal received at his office here today the Minister of Culture and Information Adel Al-Toraifi to discuss cultural cooperation between the two countries, according to the Saudi Press Agency.
Al-Toraifi had also met with the Deputy Director General of Turkish Television and Broadcasting Corporation Zaki Chivichi and discussed areas of possible cooperation.
Following the meeting, Chivichi honored Al-Toraifi with a memorial shield to mark his visit.
The meeting was attended, on the Saudi side, by Abdulmalik Al-Shalhoub, acting president of the Television and Broadcasting Commission, and Abdulmohsen Elias, undersecretary of the ministry for external information.


Resumed cargo flights: Thaw in Israel-Turkey ties?

Updated 41 min 34 sec ago

Resumed cargo flights: Thaw in Israel-Turkey ties?

  • Ankara’s involvement in Syria’s Idlib province against the Tehran-backed Assad regime has recently provided a common denominator for Turkey and Israel to reconcile
  • Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians remains a major irritant in relations with Ankara – Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday reiterated his support for the Palestinians

ISTANBUL: Israeli airline El Al has resumed cargo flights twice weekly between Tel Aviv and Istanbul for the first time in 10 years — a sign that decade-long bilateral tensions might be easing.
A cargo flight landed in Istanbul on Sunday morning to pick up humanitarian aid and protective equipment destined for US medical teams fighting COVID-19.
Burhanettin Duran, head of the Ankara-based think tank SETA, wrote that Turkey’s regional empowerment is “obliging Israel to search for normalization steps with Ankara.”
Dr. Nimrod Goren, head of the Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies, said the cargo flight is a positive and visible development in bilateral relations that was probably approved by top government officials on both sides and required diplomatic efforts.
“However, the fact that this step takes place in parallel to a discussion about Israeli annexation in the West Bank, and to criticism of annexation by regional and international actors, might impact how it’s viewed in Turkey,” he told Arab News.
Goren said while the Israeli and Turkish governments continue to have significant policy differences, they should work to restore their relations to ambassadorial level, and to relaunch a strategic dialogue on regional developments of mutual interest.
“The forming of a new Israeli government, and the appointment of Gabi Ashkenazi as a new foreign minister, could be an opportunity to do so, and the cargo flight brings some positive momentum,” he added.
Turkey expelled Israel’s ambassador in May 2018 after the US moved its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Ankara’s involvement in Syria’s Idlib province against the Tehran-backed Assad regime has recently provided a common denominator for Turkey and Israel to reconcile, as it also serves the latter’s strategic interests in weakening the Iranian presence in Syria.
But Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians remains a major irritant in relations with Ankara. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday reiterated his support for the Palestinians. 
In a video message on Twitter, he said the issue of Jerusalem “is a red line for all Muslims worldwide.”
He added that Israel’s “new occupation and annexation project … disrespects Palestine’s sovereignty and international law.”
Ryan Bohl, Middle East analyst at geopolitical-risk firm Stratfor, told Arab News: “Turkey is trying to create economic ties with Israel because … Erdogan is finding the political ground changed, caused in part by demographic changes as young Turks are less incensed by the Palestinian issue, and in part by a general weariness among Turks about putting too much skin in the game to solve the Palestinian question,” 
Israel is expected to annex large parts of the occupied West Bank on July 1 under the terms of a coalition government agreement. Ankara has strongly criticized the plan.
Israeli and Turkish officials are rumored to have held talks behind closed doors to reach a deal on maritime borders and exclusive economic zones in the eastern Mediterranean. 
Israel’s Foreign Ministry recently said it was “proud of our diplomatic relations with Turkey.”
But Goren said it is currently unlikely that Israel will advance a maritime demarcation deal with Turkey as it would shake several regional balances at the same time.
“It will put in jeopardy, and run in contrast to, the important alliances in the eastern Mediterranean that Israel has fostered in recent years with Greece, Cyprus and Egypt,” he added.