The hatred and hostility underpinning Yemeni Houthis’ political ideology

A fighter stands guard before a portrait of Hussein Badreddin Al-Houthi, the founder of Ansar Allah (aka the Houthi movement), during a rally in Sanaa on Sept. 14, 2020. (AFP/File Photo)
A fighter stands guard before a portrait of Hussein Badreddin Al-Houthi, the founder of Ansar Allah (aka the Houthi movement), during a rally in Sanaa on Sept. 14, 2020. (AFP/File Photo)
Short Url
Updated 08 March 2021

The hatred and hostility underpinning Yemeni Houthis’ political ideology

A fighter stands guard before a portrait of Hussein Badreddin Al-Houthi, the founder of Ansar Allah (aka the Houthi movement), during a rally in Sanaa on Sept. 14, 2020. (AFP/File Photo)
  • Biden administration scrapped the militia’s terrorist designation despite ample evidence of its extremist mentality
  • Militia’s leaders have never tried to conceal their contempt and antipathy toward the US, Israel, Jews and Gulf states

CAIRO: Hussein Badreddin Al-Houthi, the eponymous founder of Yemen’s Houthi militia, gave a sermon on Jan. 17, 2002, in which he coined the slogan “God is greater, death to America, death to Israel, curse on the Jews, victory to Islam.” It is a slogan that the Houthis, known formally as Ansar Allah, say should not be taken literally, yet has gained currency among the militia’s members since Hussein Badreddin’s death.

Abdul-Malik Badreddin Al-Houthi, who became Ansar Allah’s leader following his brother’s death in 2004, is known to be the mastermind behind the group’s bloody insurgency and the 2015 capture of Sanaa. Abdul-Malik has long espoused Hussein Badreddin’s toxic opinions, including his antipathy towards America, Israel and the Arab states he viewed as collaborators of the West.

And yet, despite the obvious extremist overtones of the slogan, echoing the venomous rhetoric of Al-Qaeda and the Taliban, Joe Biden’s new US administration has chosen to scrap the Houthis’ label as a foreign terrorist organization — a designation it was given just days before the Trump administration left office.

A speech by Houthi leader Abdul-Malik Al-Houthi is screened at a football stadium in the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, on December 23, 2015. (AFP/File Photo)

This week it emerged that the Biden administration has gone a step further, sending negotiators to meet with Houthi representatives in Oman. The stated objective was to open avenues towards peace between the Iran-backed occupiers of Sanaa and the UN-recognized Yemeni government in Aden.

According to Reuters, Timothy Lenderking, the lead US envoy on the Yemen crisis, met with Houthi chief negotiator Mohammed Abdul-Salam in Muscat on Feb. 26.

With much of northwest Yemen on the brink of famine, and renewed US engagement with Tehran firmly on the cards, the new administration has made no secret of its desire to reach a non-military solution to the grinding conflict.

These talks are going ahead in spite of the fact that Houthi thoughts and actions reflect the very definition of a global terrorist entity — from its unapologetically open attacks on populated areas to its ideological fanaticism, well documented in its leaders’ sermons and writings.

As far back as March 8, 2002, Hussein Badreddin gave a sermon in Yemen’s northern Saada province calling for acts of terrorism against non-Muslims. In a pamphlet, titled “Terrorism and Peace,” he falsely claimed: “Muslims, this is what the Holy Quran states. Believers, you must do everything you can to terrorize the enemies of God.

“This is legitimate terrorism. But instead of talking about legitimate terrorism, we are the ones listening to the media and leaders, and allowing the word (terrorism) to echo in its American meaning and not in its Quranic meaning.”

In the same inflammatory sermon, Hussein Badreddin identified non-Muslims as the root of all evil and America as a terrorist entity. 

Yemeni supporters of the Houthi movement lit anti-US and anti-Israeli placards during a rally commemorating the death of Shiite Imam Zaid bin Ali in the capital Sanaa, on September 14, 2020. (AFP/File Photo)

“We must always talk about the Jews and the Christians just as God spoke about them in the Holy Quran, that they are the sources of evil, and those who have them are the sources of corruption, and that they are the ones who seek corruption on Earth,” he falsely claimed, arguing it is necessary “to firmly establish in the minds of Muslims that the US is a terrorist, that the US is evil, that Jews and Christians are evil so that they will not precede us.”

Hussein Badreddin also voiced virulently anti-Semitic views while criticizing Israel and displayed a puritanical attitude toward women’s education, dismissing the latter as a Zionist conspiracy against Muslims.

In another of his sermons, published in a December 2001 pamphlet titled “Who are we and who are they,” he sounded the false warning that educated women “will eventually learn how to become a woman that is far from giving birth to a true Muslim Arab, far from giving birth to and raising Muslim heroes. She will rather raise Zionist soldiers and give birth to a society and generations who will become their servants.”

In a December 2001 sermon, titled “Loyalty and hostility,” Hussein Badreddin made the baseless claim that confrontation with the West was a religious duty, because Jewish and Christian culture corrupted young Muslims: “When a person becomes corrupt, lets their children become corrupt, or corrupts others, they are considered recruiters for the service of the US and Israel, and the service of Jews and Christians. This proves their keenness to get what they want, and for their corruption to reach every house and every person, just as the devil wants. This is the devil’s plan.”

A security member loyal to the Houthi movement lifts his firearm during a demonstration in front of the closed US Embassy in the capital Sanaa, on January 18, 2021. (AFP/File Photo)

In many of his sermons and writings, Hussein Badreddin spoke highly of Iran’s Shiite theocracy and the Lebanese Hezbollah, which he once called “the most important masters of jihad in this world.”

Abdul-Malik, the current leader, is cut from the same cloth. Like his late brother, he has accused Gulf Arab states of aligning with the US and Israel. During a Sept. 20, 2020, sermon, he described the Abraham Accords, under which the UAE and Bahrain established formal diplomatic relations with Israel, as “an allegiance with the enemies of Islam.”

In another sermon a month earlier, Abdul-Malik recycled his brother’s false belief that jihad against the US and its allies is a sacred duty. To tell it in his own words: “Our stance in confronting the brutal American, Saudi, Emirati, Zionist aggression against our country is a principled stance on the grounds of our faith and religious affiliation. By virtue of our faith’s identity, it is a sacred jihad, a religious, human and patriotic duty, and whoever disregards this duty, or betrays this stance, they are then betraying and misusing their faith’s identity.”

On Jan. 3, 2020, then-US President Donald Trump authorized the assassination of Qassem Soleimani, the Iranian commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC)’s extraterritorial Quds Force, and Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis, chief of Iraqi’s Shiite paramilitia group Kataib Hezbollah. The two men were killed in a US drone strike as their convoy left Baghdad airport.

Houthi supporters gesture as they chant slogans during a demonstration against the outgoing US administration’s decision to designate the Iran-backed rebels as terrorists, in the capital Sanaa on January 20, 2021. (AFP/File Photo)

Tehran and its Iraqi proxies have since hit back with rockets and ballistic missiles aimed at US-led coalition targets in Iraq, killing several Western military personnel and civilian contractors and further destabilizing the country.

In a sermon delivered on Aug. 20, 2020, Abdul-Malik was unstinting in his approval of the indiscriminate attacks, saying: “We commend the escalation of the resistance operations against the American presence in Iraq.

“At this late stage, the Americans wanted to return to Iraq, to establish their colonizer status again, and to take charge once more. Matters have escalated after their heinous and dreadful crime of assassinating the two martyrs Qassem Soleimani and Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis in Iraq.”

Unsurprisingly, the Houthi slogan, “God is greater, death to America, death to Israel, curse on the Jews, victory to Islam,” has the same violent ring today as it did when Hussein Badreddin coined it in January 2002 — just four months after Al-Qaeda’s 9/11 attacks on the US.

A child holds a banner showing the Houthi leader Abdul-Malik Al-Houthi during a demonstration of his supporters to mark the fourth anniversary of the "Friday of Dignity" attack on March 18, 2015 in Sanaa. (AFP/File Photo)

Marking the anniversary of the slogan’s first public utterance, Abdul-Malik reminded the Houthis that it was his late brother’s contention that hostility towards Jews and Christians was a religious imperative.

“The Holy Quran provided us with an accurate, precise, real, and certain assessment of our enemies represented by the team of evil, treacherous, deceptive, hateful and hostile people of the book (Jews and Christians),” Abdul-Malik said, trying to justify the havoc Iran-backed militias have caused on religious grounds.

“Their plans, stances, provisions, and methods, will be based on the premise that they do not wish us — the Muslim community — well.”

As the US re-examines its stance on Iran and its radical Shiite proxies throughout the Middle East, the belief that sanctions relief, negotiations or alternative designations can get the Houthi leadership to change its spots seems delusional at best and dangerous at worst.



Arab coalition carries out air strikes on military targets in Sanaa, Saada

Arab coalition carries out air strikes on military targets in Sanaa, Saada
Updated 1 min 32 sec ago

Arab coalition carries out air strikes on military targets in Sanaa, Saada

Arab coalition carries out air strikes on military targets in Sanaa, Saada
  • Operation in Sanaa targeted one of the main stores of weapons and other supplies
  • The coalition also destroyed workshops that store ballistic missiles and drones in Saada

DUBAI: The Arab coalition on Thursday carried out air strikes on military targets in Yemen’s Sanaa and Saada, Al-Arabiya TV reported.
It further called on civilians not to approach the targeted sites.
The coalition said the operation in Sanaa targeted one of the main stores of weapons and other supplies. “In east of Sanaa, we destroyed two sites under construction as warehouses for military use,” it said.
The coalition also destroyed workshops that store ballistic missiles and drones in Saada.
Earlier on Wednesday, the coalition said they intercepted and destroyed a drone over Amran province after it was launched from Sanaa International Airport.
The Iran-backed Houthis have repeatedly target Saudi Arabia with explosive-rigged drones, mostly without causing much damage because of the Kingdom’s air defenses.
The coalition has carried out multiple sorties against targets in Sanaa, particularly hitting the airport after surveillance pictures and videos showed it has been converted into a military base for experts of the Revolutionary Guards and Hezbollah.

Unvaccinated expats in Jordan face strict measures, including deportation

Unvaccinated expats in Jordan face strict measures, including deportation
Updated 02 December 2021

Unvaccinated expats in Jordan face strict measures, including deportation

Unvaccinated expats in Jordan face strict measures, including deportation
  • Foreign workers are allowed to receive the vaccine for free

DUBAI: Foreign workers who have not been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by December 15 face strict measures from the government, including deportation.

“The decision aims to protect public health, noting that prompting foreign workers to get vaccinated protects them against future infections and disease transmission,” a report from state news agency Petra said, quoting a statement from Jordan’s interior ministry.

Foreign workers are allowed to receive the vaccine for free, without the need to present their residency or work permits.

A total 4,142,489 individuals have received their first COVID-19 jab, while 3,754,055 are now fully vaccinated, a health ministry briefer noted.

Health officials on Wednesday reported 5,047 new coronavirus infections, putting Jordan’s caseload to 958,990, with 56,991 active cases currently receiving treatment.

Jordanian authorities earlier declared that the country had entered a third wave of the coronavirus ‘with the increase in the number of delta variant infections and hospital admission rates.’ The second wave occurred during the first quarter of this year.

Authorities have banned travelers South Africa and six other African countries from entering the, with the emergence of the omicron COVID-19 strain from these nations. It was first detected in South Africa.

UN warned its credibility is at stake over the Palestinian question

UN warned its credibility is at stake over the Palestinian question
Updated 02 December 2021

UN warned its credibility is at stake over the Palestinian question

UN warned its credibility is at stake over the Palestinian question
  • General Assembly President Abdulla Shahid reiterated that a two-state solution is the only way forward and said ‘we cannot give up hope’
  • His comments came days after the 74 th anniversary of Resolution 181, which called for the partition of Palestine into Arab and Jewish states

NEW YORK: There is more at stake in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict than peace and security in the Middle East, according to Abdulla Shahid, the president of the UN General Assembly.

The reputation of the global community and its ability to work together to resolve international disputes, in keeping with the founding vision of the UN, is also on the line, he warned.

“That is why we cannot give up hope,” said Shahid as he called on member states to make every effort to join forces to resolve the conflict in line with international human rights and humanitarian laws, and the UN charter.

“We must maintain the credibility of this great institution and push for positive dialogue and engagement between the parties involved.”

Speaking on Wednesday during a plenary meeting of the General Assembly to discuss the Palestinian question and the situation in the wider Middle East, Shahid described as “disheartening” the lack of progress on an issue that has been on the UN agenda since the organization’s earliest years.

The situations in Palestine and the wider region are “deeply intertwined,” he said.

“We have seen time and time again how the spillover effects of the Palestinian-Israeli dispute undermine the stability of the broader region,” he added.

“As long as the Palestinian people are deprived of statehood, as long as illegal settlements continue to be built on land that Palestinians are justly entitled to, as long as Palestinian families are forced to flee the violence and injustices against them and they cannot return home, anger and bitterness will fester.

“This will contribute to a cycle of violence that has gone on for far, far too long.”

The plenary session came days after the 74th anniversary of resolution 181, which was passed by the General Assembly on Nov. 29, 1947. It called for the partition of Palestine into Arab and Jewish states, with the city of Jerusalem a separate entity to be governed by an international regime.

Facilitating a two-state solution based on pre-1967 borders is the “most important thing” the world can do to help resolve the conflict, said Shahid, who called for an acceleration of the multilateral political process to find a just and peaceful settlement.

Turning to key issues affecting Palestinians, he said it is time for the international community to back its words with actions in terms of humanitarian assistance, support for efforts to resolve the conflict, and upholding the dignity of Palestinians.

“Year after year we speak of the appalling humanitarian crisis in Palestine, especially the Gaza strip,” Shahid said. “But words are insufficient. Words cannot substitute for the lack of running water, electricity, proper sanitation, and decent living conditions that millions of Palestinians endure.

“Words can express how COVID-19 has exacerbated these challenges but they cannot resolve them. Words cannot save Palestinian people suffering from decades of occupation, arbitrary arrests and the use of excessive force against them. Words cannot restore their demolished homes or halt the proliferation of illegal settlements on their land.”

More than half of the five million Palestinians in the Occupied Territories are dependent on humanitarian assistance to survive. That number rises to 80 percent in Gaza, where residents “cry out for access to even basic amenities and services,”  Shahid said.

The many Palestinian refugees across the Middle East are also in jeopardy, he added, highlighting the large shortfall in funding for the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East. He called on the international community to ensure it provides enough financial support to maintain the life-saving work of the agency.

“Let us all come together as an international community and reiterate our commitment to protect the rights of the Palestinian people,” said Shahid.

“Let us grant them what they have been justly demanding for so long: dignity, statehood and respect.”

The photographer who chronicled the UAE’s history with a camera

The photographer who chronicled the UAE’s history with a camera
Updated 02 December 2021

The photographer who chronicled the UAE’s history with a camera

The photographer who chronicled the UAE’s history with a camera
  • The UAE’s National Day, celebrated on Dec. 2 each year, marks the unification of the emirates into a federation
  • Ramesh Shukla documented the UAE’s evolution from disparate sheikhdoms into an ambitious, modern nation

DUBAI: Veteran photographer Ramesh Shukla has lived in the UAE for the best part of five decades. He arrived from his native India just as the former Trucial States were approaching independence from Britain and embarking on a remarkable journey of nation building.

Now 84 years old, he witnessed firsthand the UAE’s evolution from a collection of disparate desert sheikhdoms and fishing villages into a global business hub synonymous with entrepreneurial dynamism, cosmopolitan cities and incredible skylines.

It is a transformation whose story he has diligently documented with his camera through the decades.

Sheikh Zayed signing his name on a photo for a young Shukla

His attachment to the country began by accident following a rather uncomfortable boat journey from Mumbai in 1965. At the time, Shukla was working for the Times of India newspaper, but the lure of exploration proved too great to resist.

Packing his most cherished possession, a Rolleicord camera, and as many rolls of film as he could carry, the young man, then in his twenties, set off on what would be a life-changing adventure.

“This is my camera,” Shukla told Arab News at Dubai’s Etihad Museum more than half a century later, carefully cradling his now-vintage Rolleicord.

“When I was 15, my father asked me: ‘What birthday gift do you want?’ And I said: ‘Papa, please give me a camera.’”

(Photo by Ramesh Shukla)

Despite his desire to see the world, Shukla, it transpired, was not well suited to sea travel. Shortly after his ship, the Dwarka, set sail from Mumbai he began to feel horribly seasick.

Desperate to escape the incessant rocking of the waves, he disembarked at Sharjah, one of the Trucial States that at the time collectively were an informal protectorate of the British Empire.

Here he found lodgings with a local, who urged the young visitor to go to the Sharjah camel racetrack where a big event was taking place at the time. Eager to witness the authentic sights and sounds of Arabia, Shukla duly went along, camera in hand.

There, squatting on the ground alongside the racetrack, he spotted a group of men who would go on to found the UAE. Among them was Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al-Nahyan, who would soon become the new country’s first president, a position he held until his death on Nov. 2, 2004.

Ramesh Shukla cradling his vintage Rolleicord camera. (AN photo/Mohamed Fawzy)

Shukla took 12 photographs of Sheikh Zayed watching the races, and returned the following day to present him with one of his portraits. The ruler of Abu Dhabi, now commonly referred to as the “Father of the Nation,” was so impressed, he signed the print and gave Shukla his pen as a gift.

“That’s when the first connection took place,” Shukla’s son Neel, an art director, told Arab News. “That was the first time he met his highness. From that point on, Sheikh Zayed said: ‘Don’t leave this region. Stay.’”

Determined to remain, Shukla brought his wife and their son to live with him in his adopted country, during its formative years.

“I was with him all the time,” said Neel. “Before taking a picture, he would take my picture to make sure the lighting was accurate and then he would take the shot.”

(Photo by Ramesh Shukla)

Entirely self-taught, Shukla developed a signature style of photography, capturing scenes of everyday life on black-and-white film, highlighting the simplicity of nomadic life in the country prior to unification and the oil boom.

Recurring subjects of his early work included hardworking Bedouin, herds of camels, traditional abra boats on Dubai Creek and Deira’s clock tower, photographed from above. He also documented the early days of Dubai’s first commercial airport and the city’s first museum.

“This was life in the UAE; there was nothing. There was no light and no water in my house,” Shukla said, highlighting the contrast between the limited amenities available then and the advanced infrastructure in the country now. Even the water he needed to develop his photos had to be drawn from a nearby well.

Though his lifestyle was modest, Shukla built a strong rapport with the UAE’s leaders, earning the informal title of “royal photographer.” His prized access to the royal courts meant that his photographs were much sought after, especially by the Indian news media.

Ramesh Shukla with his iconic image of the UAE's founding fathers. (AN photo/Mohamed Fawzy)

Much of Shukla’s collection has been preserved for posterity thanks to his wife, Tarulatta, who carefully archived her husband’s negatives, protecting them from the humidity and dust, at their modest home in Deira, which consisted of a dark room, a kitchen and a bedroom. The archive offers a compelling account of the UAE’s 50-year journey as a nation.

“He kept documenting history,” said Neel. “We are very careful about the collection. We don’t commercialize it — this is history. This is why he is loved more than anything else, because he’s keeping history sacred and close to him.”

(Photo by Ramesh Shukla)

Shukla’s business card features a miniature print of a photograph of which he is especially proud. On Dec. 2, 1971, he attended the historic ceremony during which the rulers of Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Ajman, Fujairah and Umm Al-Quwain came together to mark their independence from Britain and the establishment of their own unified country. Ras Al-Khaimah would join the union the following month.

It was here that Shukla captured on film what would become an iconic image of the sheikhs standing under the national flag of their new country. The flagpole stands to this day in Dubai’s Jumeirah district.

“There was great happiness,” said Shukla, recalling the day, half a century ago, he took the photograph under the same flagpole. “With one family, the UAE started.”

Union House, where the agreement that created the UAE was signed, is nearby. Shukla was there, of course, to capture on camera the historic moment when Sheikh Zayed added his signature to the document. His photo of the assembled sheikhs became the “Spirit of the Union” logo, which was widely used on the 45th UAE National Day five years ago.

Many of Shukla’s photos are displayed at stations along the Dubai Metro line. More recently, his image of Sheikh Zayed signing the union agreement has featured in the Expo 2020 Dubai passports.

Ramesh Shukla with his son art director Neel Shukla. (AN photo/Mohamed Fawzy)

In recognition of his remarkable contribution to the UAE’s national story, the photographer was among the first of Dubai’s creative community to receive a coveted Golden Visa, which grants holders long-term residency rights without the need for a national sponsor, and 100 percent ownership of their own businesses.

Shukla has certainly led an eventful life, documenting the history of a nation from its very inception, including its natural and cultural heritage, its most pivotal and proudest moments, and even the lives of its heads of state.

Yet, he does not believe in retirement despite working so hard for so many years.

“After the age of 100, life starts,” he said.

Israel, Turkey should restore ambassadorial links: Foreign policy expert

Israel, Turkey should restore ambassadorial links: Foreign policy expert
Updated 02 December 2021

Israel, Turkey should restore ambassadorial links: Foreign policy expert

Israel, Turkey should restore ambassadorial links: Foreign policy expert

ANKARA: Israel and Turkey should restore ambassadorial links as part of efforts to reduce tensions between the two countries, a leading regional foreign policy expert has told Arab News.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan recently hinted that an impending detente with Israel could be next on his rapprochement agenda with countries in the region, including the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt.
Such a move would reflect a general pattern currently being followed in the Middle East with nations trying to de-escalate tensions and diversify relations.
Dr. Nimrod Goren, president and founder of Mitvim, the Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies, said the restoration of ambassadorial-level ties was now a feasible foreign policy goal for Israel and Turkey.
“The leaders of both countries should not let this opportunity go by unfulfilled and should seek to translate the positive vibe in relations into tangible actions,” he added.
Earlier this month, an Israeli couple, both bus drivers, were detained for a week in Turkey on political and military espionage charges after being arrested for photographing Erdogan’s residence in Istanbul.
Their release and return to Israel and Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s public thanks to Erdogan for his personal involvement in resolving the incident were seen as the extension of an olive branch to prevent an escalation of the crisis.
Goren said: “The positive manner in which the incident of the Israeli couple’s detention in Istanbul ended creates a window of opportunity beyond the window that already opened up when the new Israeli government took office and after the recent call between Erdogan and (new Israeli President Isaac) Herzog.
“The efforts to resolve the incident exemplified that both countries can work together to resolve tensions. It increased mutual trust, strengthened existing channels, and led to initial and much-needed direct communication between Erdogan and Bennett.”
In a recent interview with Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz, Israel’s Foreign Ministry Director General Alon Ushpiz, said: “There is potential for a relative improvement in Israel Turkey ties, more than there was two weeks ago, and I think we need to examine it exhaustively.”
Dr. Selin Nasi, London representative of the Ankara Policy Center and a respected researcher on Turkish Israeli relations, told Arab News: “Turkey and Israel, as two of the three non-Arab countries in the region, have a lot to gain from cooperation in various areas, be it trade relations, intelligence sharing, energy cooperation, or defense.
“Indeed, the two countries have succeeded in compartmentalizing bilateral relations and bilateral trade has continued to grow in the last decade despite political disputes.”
The foreign trade volume between Turkey and Israel was $6.2 billion last year.
The looming threat of Iran becoming armed with nuclear weapons had also incentivized the need for security cooperation, Nasi said.
On Nov. 18, Erdogan had a rare phone call with his Israeli counterpart Herzog and emphasized that continued dialogue between the two nations would be “mutually beneficial.”
Nasi added: “From Ankara’s perspective, anti-Israeli rhetoric might have served its purpose in the domestic political sphere but is no longer deemed useful in mobilizing the constituency.”
Instead, she pointed out that a positive narrative based on “Turkey gaining back its soft power through a number of reconciliatory steps taken to mend broken ties with countries in the region” may prove more useful in the upcoming elections.
She noted that improved relations between Turkey and Israel would pave the way for Ankara to get involved, either directly or indirectly, in the US-backed strategic partnership network that had been increasingly consolidated in the Eastern Mediterranean over the last decade.
“Ankara wants to gain back some of the ground lost to her regional competitors — Greece and Egypt — and therefore aims to repudiate multilateral treaties and redraw maritime boundaries according to her strategic interests,” Nasi said.
Israel, she added, had always been a significant facilitator for friendly ties between Ankara and Washington.
“Maintaining cordial relations with Israel also enables Turkey to play a more active and constructive role in the Palestinian issue, raising living standards for the Palestinians.
“Because of her unique geopolitical position bordering Syria and Iran, along with her being a NATO member, Turkey will remain as an important actor and an ally for Israel. This explains why Israel has left the door open for dialogue with Ankara, and welcomed reconciliatory steps in this regard, despite having reservations,” Nasi said.
Meanwhile, Israel has urged Turkey to close all offices and ban the activities of Hamas in the country after a Nov. 21 terror attack in Jerusalem carried out by a Hamas member affiliated with Turkey.
Nasi pointed out that any progress on the normalization of Turkish Israeli relations would depend on Ankara’s sincerity and consistency in seeking reconciliation with Israel.
“There is potential for cooperation, but building mutual trust is essential in moving forward. And in terms of building resilient bilateral ties, the two countries need to develop cooperation on the basis of shared interests in a pragmatic manner, preventing the Palestinian issue solely dominating the agenda,” she added.
Goren said: “Senior Israeli ministers still expect Turkey to prove its goodwill and positive intentions, especially by limiting Hamas’ activities in Turkey. But a Turkish decision to send an ambassador to Israel, will most likely be welcomed, and will be reciprocated with a similar Israeli move.”
He noted that such an upgrade of ties would enable both countries to launch a strategic dialogue on regional affairs, improve bilateral economic and civilian cooperation, promote Turkish involvement in the Palestinian issue, and increase Israeli engagement with the Muslim world.
“If done within a context of a Turkish rapprochement with Egypt and the UAE, the potential will even be bigger. It will soften tensions in the region, broaden the space for dialogue and cooperation, and lessen Israeli concerns that advancing ties with Turkey might jeopardize other regional alliances,” he added.