When President Obama was elected in 2008, he promised to bring a different treatment for the Arab world. 6 years later, it seems that no one could have predicted the historic shift in the American policy towards the Middle East. After many years where US major allies were Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, Obama went on to open a new axis, creating an unspoken alliance with Turkey, Iran and Qatar, in order to (among other things) deal with ISIS. However, recent events on the Turkish-Syrian border have aroused great concern in the western world about the level of commitment of this new axis. Concerns intensified after the attack on Kurdish village Daglica.
From the moment Obama had first declared war on ISIS on September 10, stating that ”US will work together with its allies to bring about the destruction of ISIS ”, it was clear that something was creaking. He also stated that the war would be managed by a wide-ranging coalition. Much criticism has been mainly put over this coalition’s members: Turkey and Iran. Many have wondered: How will Turkey be able to help its sworn enemy – the Kurds, in this war? As time goes on, it seems that concerns were justified: on October 14, Turkey has attacked destinations of Kurds in Daglika, a village near the border with Iraq, using American F16 aircraft. The attack came after Kurdish rebels tried to attack a Turkish base on the border with Syria, because the Turkish authorities refused to allow them to help their brothers in the besieged city Kubani.
The result of the Turkish attack is completely absurd: the American government, after urging Turkey to join the fight against terror, found itself embarrassed when Turkey used US-made planes to hit the Kurds. There is no way to avoid the fact that, eventually, Turkey helped ISIS through this attack. Just one day before that, we have heard American officials saying that Turkey has agreed to put American planes in the country to attack ISIS but Turks have immediately denied it. So far, we have seen a little number of American attacks on ISIS, which only creates more conspiracy theories.
Turkish issue is deeply controversial also in Europe. Many Europeans oppose letting Turkey join the EU, especially in light of recent radicalization under Erdogan’s regime. His last visit to Cologne, where he had a speech in front of tens of thousands of Turkish immigrants, had raised much criticism in Germany. That visit came after Erdogan’s harsh statements against the German government’s treatment of immigrants, causing government officials to respond, “It is better for Erdogan to focus on his problems than coming to Germany to heat up the atmosphere.
Strong criticism came also from Austria, where leader of Austria’s freedom party HC Strache said, “It must be clear to everyone that ISIS and Turkey support each other. Every negotiation on Turkey joining the EU must be stopped”. Strache, who in the past had expressed his support for Israel several times, even gave a speech where he said that Austria should return to neutrality and stop the trend of EU intervention in foreign conflicts.
Results of Midterm elections reflect another symptom for the lack of trust for Obamas’ policies. Unlike internal affairs that needed a broad consensus for them to pass, in the field of Foreign Policy Obama had acted so far almost with no restrictions. This activity led to mistrust and suspicion about his guiding principles. From Israel’s perspective, these changes require rethinking. It is clear that the US had and will be a major supporter of Israel, but in a world where the US also has other interests and allies that are in deep contrast, Israel needs to look for new alliances in Europe. Recent Statements in Europe show that we have someone to work with.