The Incredible Shrinking US-Israel Security Cooperation
If the Administration had wanted to make the point the Israel is a valued partner in counterterrorism activities, it could have insisted that Israel be there or else moved the meeting.
In light of increased sensitivity to intelligence leaks, it seemed innocuous – or even admirable – when the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) asked the Senate to remove a few words from the US-Israel Enhanced Security Cooperation Act: the "sense of the Senate" part of the bill included the sentence, "Expand already close intelligence cooperation, including satellite intelligence, with the Government of Israel;" ODNI wanted the words "including satellite intelligence" to go.
An ODNI spokesman said it was "simply a matter of clarifying the intelligence aspects of the bill and being sensitive to the level of specificity of the language…nothing nefarious here, just more clear language."
This is just the latest example of the Obama Administration making clear that it does not want to be seen as Israel's partner in regional affairs – several of them predicated on Turkish desires. Despite Israel's status as a Major Non-NATO ally, a NATO "partner" country, and a member of NATO's Mediterranean Dialogue, Turkey is increasingly insistent that Israel be isolated and cut out. This surrender to Turkey -- which Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has for years been aggressively making ever more fundamentalist -- coincides nicely with the Administration's increasingly open courtship of Turkey's Islamist-leaning and virulently anti-Israel Prime Minister and what appears to be the desire of the Administration to enhance security relations in the Arab-Muslim world as it dials back visible cooperation with Israel.
This is no small matter. Israel's security is threatened -- above all by the refusal of the Arab States to accept that it is a legitimate, permanent part of the region in which it lives. For the U.S. or Turkey -- formerly a partner in regional security – to distance themselves from Israeli security is to raise hopes among enemies that they will ultimately be able to threaten Israel without fear of a U.S. or NATO-allied response.
Turkey bluntly objects to sharing intelligence information with Israel – specifically the intelligence from NATO's Turkey-based, U.S.-run X-Band early warning radars. At a NATO meeting in Brussels, Turkish Defense Minister Ismet Yilmaz told reporters, "We need to trust states' words. This is a NATO facility and it shouldn't be used beyond the scope of this purpose." The "state" in question was clearly the U.S., and "beyond the scope" referred to sharing information with Israel. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta replied, "Clearly, the NATO members are the ones that will participate in the program and access information produced by the missile defense system." In a meeting in February, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen parroted the Turkish formula. "We do stress that data within this missile defense system are not shared with a third country. Data are shared within our alliance, among allies, it is a defensive system to protect the populations of NATO allies," Rasmussen said.
Agreeing publicly to keep intelligence information from Israel – a more likely target of Iran than Europe/NATO – at the behest of Turkey is a serious diminution of the U.S.-Israel security relationship as well as the Israel-NATO relationship, and elevates Turkey to the role of spoiler.
According to one source, Turkey assured Iran that the X-Band radars were not aimed at the Islamic Republic and that a Turkish military officer was in charge of receiving the intelligence information. Here the U.S. appears to have balked, telling Israel that Americans were in charge of the information, but not reassuring Israel on the subject of information sharing. Further, since the station in Turkey also acquires information from the X-Band radar based in Israel, it raises Israeli concerns that Turkey will have access to security information from Israeli skies.
Turkey also demanded the exclusion of Israel from Anatolian Eagle, a NATO exercise conducted every few years to enhance aerial cooperation. The Turkish decision caused Italy and the U.S. to pull out, and the exercise was canceled – "postponed," according to US sources as was the planned U.S.-Israel missile defense exercise, Austere Challenge, which would have had a strong intelligence-sharing component.
NATO's snub of Israel at the meeting in Chicago in May was simply waved away: "Israel is neither a participant in ISAF nor in KFOR (Afghanistan and Kosovo missions)," said Rasmussen, even as he acknowledged that 13 other "partner" nations would attend because, "In today's world security challenges know no borders, and no country or alliance can deal with most of them on their own."
It was said then that Turkey used its NATO veto. But Israel was similarly not invited to the inaugural meeting of the Global Counterterrorism Forum in Istanbul -- not a NATO meeting.
Coming on the heels of Eager Lion 2012, a Special Operations exercise involving 12,000 troops from 19 countries (excluding Israel and including several countries at war with Israel), the counterterrorism forum was designed by Secretary of State Clinton to "build the international architecture for dealing with 21st century terrorism." The State Department was responsible for the invitations, so Turkey had no veto. If the Administration had wanted to make the point that Israel is a valued partner in counterterrorism activities, it could have insisted that Israel be there or else moved the meeting.
Perhaps as compensation, a U.S. delegation visited Israel separately. But private bilateral meetings are no substitute for leading by example so that other countries – particularly in the Middle East, North Africa and Southwest Asia – understand that the United States sees Israel as a legitimate partner in solving regional problems, including terrorism, and that U.S.-Israel security cooperation is a priority of the American government.
Turkey is riding high with the Administration right now; and President Obama welcomed the Turkish Prime Minister in March as an "outstanding partner and an outstanding friend on a wide range of issues" -- including, apparently, in reducing relations with Israel.
ODNI's determination to remove language about satellite intelligence from the Senate bill was most likely intended to ensure that the State Department and Pentagon were not caught between the Senate's interest in keeping U.S.-Israel security relations strong, and Turkey's interest in wedging Israel out of its place as an American security partner.
What an odd place for a U.S. intelligence agency to find itself. What an odd place for the Administration to find its intelligence agency -- or what an odd place to put it.
Shoshana Bryen is Senior Director of The Jewish Policy Center. She was previously Senior Director for Security Policy at JINSA and author of JINSA Reports from 1995-2011.
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|US-Israel cooperation [34 words]||Dan Tolkowsky||Jun 29, 2012 04:44|
|"I've got your back." [58 words]||David Most||Jun 28, 2012 22:13|
|U.S.-Israel Security Cooperation [6 words]||Martin Sterenbuch||Jun 27, 2012 14:11|
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by Burak Bekdil
The Turkish government "frankly worked" with the al-Nusrah Front, the al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria, along with other terrorist groups.
The Financial Task Force, an international body setting the standards for combating terrorist financing, ruled that Turkey should remain in its "gray list."
While NATO wishes to reinforce its outreach to democracies such as Australia and Japan, Turkey is trying to forge wider partnerships with the Arab world, Russia, China, Central Asia, China, Africa and -- and with a bunch of terrorist organizations, including Hamas, Muslim Brotherhood, Ahrar al-Sham and the al-Nusrah Front.
Being NATO's only Muslim member was fine. Being NATO's only Islamist member ideologically attached to the Muslim Brotherhood is quite another thing.
by Samuel Westrop
British politicians seem to be trapped in an endless debate over how to curb both violent and non-violent extremism within the Muslim community.
A truly useful measure might be to end the provision of state funding and legitimacy to terror-linked extremist charities.
by Soeren Kern
"My son and I love life with the beheaders." — British jihadist Sally Jones.
Mujahidah Bint Usama published pictures of herself on Twitter holding a severed head while wearing a white doctor's jacket; alongside it, the message: "Dream job, a terrorist doc."
British female jihadists are now in charge of guarding as many as 3,000 non-Muslim Iraqi women and girls held captive as sex slaves.
"The British women are some of the most zealous in imposing the IS laws in the region. I believe that's why at least four of them have been chosen to join the women police force." — British terrorism analyst Melanie Smith.
by Khaled Abu Toameh
"Armed robbery in broad daylight." — Palestinians, after Hamas "seized" $750,000 from Gaza bank.
Fatah accused Hamas of "squandering" $700 million of financial aid earmarked for the Palestinian victims of war. Fatah wants to ensure that the millions of dollars intended for the Gaza Strip will pass through its hands and not end up in Hamas's bank accounts. Relying on Fatah in this regard is like asking a cat to guard the milk.
The head of the Palestinian Authority's Anti-Corruption Commission revealed that his group has retrieved $70 million of public funds fund embezzled by Palestinian officials. Arab and Western donors need to make sure that their money does not end up (once again) in the wrong hands. Without a proper mechanism of accountability and transparency, hundreds of millions of dollars are likely to find their way into the bank accounts of both Hamas and Fatah leaders.
by Mudar Zahran
"If Hamas does not like you for any reason all they have to do now is say you are a Mossad agent and kill you." — A., a Fatah member in Gaza.
"Hamas wanted us butchered so it could win the media war against Israel showing our dead children on TV and then get money from Qatar." — T., former Hamas Ministry officer.
"They would fire rockets and then run away quickly, leaving us to face Israeli bombs for what they did." — D., Gazan journalist.
"Hamas imposed a curfew: anyone walking out in the street was shot. That way people had to stay in their homes, even if they were about to get bombed. Hamas held the whole Gazan population as a human shield." — K., graduate student
"The Israeli army allows supplies to come in and Hamas steals them. It seems even the Israelis care for us more than Hamas." — E., first-aid volunteer.
"We are under Hamas occupation, and if you ask most of us, we would rather be under Israeli occupation… We miss the days when we were able to work inside Israel and make good money. We miss the security and calm Israel provided when it was here." — S., graduate of an American university, former Hamas sympathizer.