GREAT GAME PLAYOFF: RUSSIA/TURKEY VS PALESTINE/ISRAEL
By Eric Walberg
Online Journal Contributing Writer
Feb 11, 2010, 00:24
A vital playing field in today’s Great Game is Palestine/Israel,
where again there is a tentative meeting of political minds between
Russia and Turkey. In defiance of the US and much of Europe, both
endorsed the Goldstone report on atrocities committed during Israel’s
invasion of Gaza in December 2008, where 100 Palestinians died for
every Israeli casualty.
Neither government is captive to Israel in the way European and US
governments are, though they both have important economic relations
Israeli dissident writer Israel Shamir commended the Turkish leaders
at a conference in Ankara in December: "Your president, Mr Gul, said a
few days ago to our president, Mr Peres, that he will not visit Israel
while the siege of Gaza continues. Turkey is no longer an American
colony. You stopped joint air force exercises with Israel and the US.
You expressed your clear anger over the horrors of Gaza. Now you
pay more attention to the area where you live; you play an important
role already and are destined to play an even greater role. So much
depends on you! We feel it every day in Palestine."
He called on Turkey, as inheritor of the Ottoman-era responsibility
for Palestine, to follow the lead of the Spanish and British judges
who issued arrest warrants for Chilean General Pinochet and Israeli
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni for murder, and issue an arrest warrant
for the infamous Captain R, accused of murdering a Palestinian child,
Iman Al-Hams, but feted in Israel as a hero. "A Turkish warrant for
his arrest should await him wherever he goes," just as "according
to Israeli law, if a Turk does wrong to a Jew in Turkey, he may
be snatched, arrested, tried and punished in Israel. Turkey should
introduce a symmetrical law, covering offences against Palestinians
who otherwise are not protected by law."
Though unlikely, this would be wildly popular in Turkey. Similarly,
unlike brainwashed Westerners fed daily doses of pro-Israeli
propaganda, Turks and most Russians have no use for the Zionist
project. True, over one million Russians took up the tantalising offer
of instant Israeli citizenship in search of a better life, qualifying
as Jewish merely via marriage or with as little as one grandparent
racially Jewish. But, despite the chauvinism of the Russian-Israeli
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, many of these Russian Israelis,
too, have no use for the Zionist project, with its innate racism, some
even marrying Palestinians. Many are returning to Russia, bitter at
the way they are treated by sabra (Jews born in Israel). The natural
sympathy of these and non-Jewish Russians is for the Palestinians.
The Soviet Union was one of the first states to recognise the state of
Palestine after the Palestinian Declaration of Independence in 1988,
and Russia has maintained that position. As Palestinian Foreign
Minister Riad Al-Maliki said during a visit to Moscow last year,
the "fact there is a Palestinian embassy in Moscow is a sign of
the strength of our relationship." Visiting Russia a week after the
Israeli Foreign Minister Lieberman, he found the Russian position on
the peace process and the question of Israeli settlement-building in
the occupied territories unchanged.
As a member of the so-called "quartet" of negotiators (along with the
European Union, the United States and the United Nations), Russia has
stuck to the principles of the "road map" for peace, which requires
Israel to freeze expansion of settlements in the occupied territories
as a condition of further talks.
Russia has 16 million Muslims, about 12 per cent of its population,
and Western-style Islamophobia — and, the flip side, Judophilia —
is largely absent. It recently attended the Organisation of Islamic
Conference as an observer and expressed interest in joining. The
problem with asserting a clear policy towards Muslim countries,
including Turkey, is of course the tragedy of Chechnya and the
persistence of Islamist terrorism within Russia, resulting in
anti-Muslim sentiment in Russian cities, which thrive on cheap labour
from the "Stans" and where much of the small-scale trade has been
run by Chechens and other "blacks."
Shamir explains: "In Europe, if you inspect the coffers of anti-Muslim
neo-Nazi groups, you’ll find that they thrive on Jewish support. In
Russia, Jewish nationalists and Zionists try to rally the Russians
against their Muslim brethren. Sometimes they do it under cover of
the Russian Church, or of Russian nationalism. The most fervently
anti-Muslim forces in Russia are organised by crypto-Zionists."
As is the case in all countries of importance, the Zionists have
their lobby in Russia too. Yevgenny Satanovsky (that’s right), the
president of the Institute for Middle Eastern Studies in Moscow,
using the royal we, argues, "For us, there is no distinction between
‘rebels’ and ‘terrorists,’ as there is in Europe. They’re all part
of the same jihad, and on this we agree with Israel." But while busy
promoting anti-Muslim sentiment among Russians, he fails to mention
the support that his colleagues give to those very forces.
The Zionist footprint in Chechnya was hinted at during the scandal
surrounding the murder of Russian FSB defector Alexander Litvinenko in
London in 2008. In a Le Carre twist, Litvinenko converted to Islam
on his deathbed, attended by exiled Chechen rebel leader Akhmed
Zakayev and exiled Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky, whose Zionist
credentials are well known. While the nature and extent of Mossad
activity in the Caucasus is impossible to know for sure, there is no
doubt that abetting terrorists is a useful way for Israel to apply
pressure on the Russian government, and that Russian security forces
do their best to keep track of it.
Turkey, Russia and Palestine all share a common geopolitical threat
in the form of US and Israeli global plans, from NATO expansion
eastward and US-Israeli plans to wage war on Iran, to the ongoing
US-Israeli colonisation of what remains of Palestine. Just as Russia
must struggle against NATO expansion eastward, intended to encircle
and contain Russia, "if the US and Israel do take Iran, Turkey will
be encircled and cut off. The fate of Palestine also depends on the
fate of Tehran," writes Shamir.
Shamir congratulated the Turkish Justice and Development Party (AKP)
on its resounding reelection in 2007: "The East returns to God, and
finds its own way. Istanbul has followed Gaza: the AKP-ruled Turkey
will be a friend to Hamas-ruled Palestine, to Islamic Iran, to Orthodox
Greece and Russia, to the religious anti-occupation forces of nearby
Iraq. She will again take her place of pride as the centrepiece of
the Eastern mosaic, while its pro-American and God-hating generals,
the Turkish Dahlans, will creep back to their barracks. Faith in
God unites us, while the nationalists had divided us." The shift in
Turkish politics since then only confirms Shamir’s words.
Is there is a Pax Russia unfolding? Ukraine is poised to turn back
the anti-Russian policies of the Orange revolutionaries. Both Ukraine
and Turkey depend heavily on Russian energy supplies, and their
political course is responding to this as well as to an aversion
to the aggressive nature of US foreign policy around the world. If
Georgia rids itself of its pro-US anti-Russian president, suddenly
US hegemony in the region evaporates.
Armenia and Azerbaijan, despite their bitter standoff now have good
relations with both Turkey and Russia and will inevitably have to
bury their hatchet as their conflict loses its ability to mobilise
support in the interests of power politics. The Iranians sensibly
refuse to cave in to Western and Israeli pressures. Their star can
only rise as the US and Israel’s sets.
Eric Walberg writes for Al-Ahram Weekly. You can reach him at