By Nathan Jones
A new chill has descended into the otherwise hot Middle Eastern air as the nation of Turkey has gone cold on its once-friendly relations with the nation of Israel.
Has the two decades old odd couple-like friendship between Turkey and Israel truly reached an end of an era? Israel National News (INN) in their article "Turkey Tightens Syrian-Iranian Axis after Snubbing Israel" (Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu, Wed., Oct. 14, 2009) agrees that, as one senior Israeli official has concluded, "[relations] have simply ended."
Why has the close ties between Ankara and Jerusalem appear to be nearing an end?
INN reports that "demands from the Arab world and from hard-line Muslims in Turkey have influenced the government to distance itself from Israel" as a way to "punish Israel for the three-week Operation Cast Lead counterterrorist war against Gaza that concluded in mid-January" 2009.
Turkey has long been moving towards partnerships with the Middle East after their difficulty in being accepted by Europe. The natural result has been for the Turkish government to recoil eastwards. The resulting membership dues for joining the brotherhood of Muslim nations is to condemn everything Israel.
Acting on this new directive, Turkey's Prime Minister Recip Tayyip Erdogan has become very vocal in his disdain for Israel, "being in the forefront of criticizing the United Nations decision last month not to discuss the Goldstone Report that accused Israel of war crimes in the Gaza operation." Along with a number of Muslim and dictator-controlled third world countries, Erdogan has convinced the U.N. to consider the report seriously. Erdogan also stormed out of a panel discussion with President Shimon Peres about the war with Hamas earlier in the year.
Turkey has now decided to shift their political ties instead to Syria. On Tuesday, October 13, 2009, Turkey and Syria signed a Turkish-Syrian treaty that includes plans to strengthen military ties and to end visa requirements for each country.
Turkey also has dropped military exercises with Western nations and instead joined in joint military drills with Syria and Iran, the nations most vocally hostile towards Israel's existence. "The Syrian-Turkish military exercises were apparently being held at the same time that Turkey was informing Jerusalem that it would ban the IAF [Israeli Air Force] from participating in the joint Anatolian Eagle exercise, a move that was not made public by Israel until Sunday. The war games, scheduled to be held together with Turkey, the U.S. and Italy, reportedly were to include mock bombing raids in air space near the borders of Iran, Iraq and Syria."
Reveling in their stronger ties with Turkey, Syria has openly praised Turkey for "pulling out of the military exercise with Israel and urged other Muslim countries, mainly Jordan and Egypt, to cut diplomatic ties with Israel." Egged on by Syria to also cut ties with Israel, Jordan capitulated this week by "threatening to withdraw its ambassador to Israel if Israeli police enter the Al-Aqsa mosque on the Temple Mount" to stop the current Muslim riots in the Arab quarter of Jerusalem and on the Temple Mount.
While the Turkish news website Zamanonline reports that only "the failure of Israel to deliver UAVs to help Turkey fight terror was the reason behind the cancellation of the aerial exercise with Israel," Israel has been "supplying Ankara with hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of equipment for refurbishing tanks and airplanes." It would seem that Turkey is merely using the UAV deal as a timely excuse to cut ties with Israel.
What does the loss of Turkish-Israeli relations mean to Israel?
For one, Israel's loss of an ally in a Middle East full of millions of Muslim aggressors leaves it decidedly more boxed in. As former Israeli Air Force Commander Eitan Ben-Eliyahu told an interviewer on Israeli television, "This is a seriously worrying development. Turkey is critically essential in the training of our air force over wide spaces, particularly given Turkey's strategic location adjacent to both Iran and Syria." Turkey was essential in allowing Israeli planes to attack a Syrian nuclear facility under construction two years ago by allowing the planes through their airspace.
Secondly, a hostile Turkey leaves Israel without any friendly nation close to its northern border, and as INN calls it, living with an "anti-Israel axis north of the border."
Thirdly, Iran and other openly anti-Semitic nations are feeling emboldened by their newest ally in their desire to "wipe Israel off the map," as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has so enthusiastically threatened.
And fourthly, the influx of Turkish support into a coalition against Israel makes the threat of invasion against Israel loom even closer as more funds and troops are added to the build-up.
What does this shift in Turkey's alliances mean prophetically?
It means the fulfillment of Bible prophecy, of course, particularly the alignment of nations that will compromise the Gog-Magog alliance described in Ezekiel 38-39.
A long 2,600 years ago the great Hebrew nabi Ezekiel unveiled the prophecy the Lord God had divulged to him concerning the future of the nation of Israel. An aggressive coalition of nations from the territories of ancient Rosh, Magog, Meshech, Tubal, Persia, Cush, Gomer and Beth-togarmah and led by a leader called "Gog, prince of Rosh, Meshech and Tubal" (Ezek. 38:2-3) would gather to invade Israel. The battlefield would be on the "mountains of Israel, which had long been desolate" (Ezek. 38:8). The purpose of the invasion will be to "plunder and loot" and destroy the people of Israel (Ezek. 38:12, 16).
Turkey now covers the former lands of Tubal, Gomer and Beth-togarmah. According to Ezekiel, Turkey will join in an alliance with the lands formerly known as Magog (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and possibly Afghanistan), Sudan (now Ethiopia), Put (now Libya and possibly Algeria and Tunisia), Persia (now Iran), quite possibly Azerbaijan and Armenia, and be led by a ruler called "Gog" from Rosh (now Russia). This very day, Turkey is solidifying its stand with these nations.
Before Turkey can join in the invasion of Israel, some of its alliances have to first be cut off. Noticeably absent from Ezekiel's list of Middle Eastern nations are those surrounding modern-day Israel, such as Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Gaza, Iraq and the Arab peninsula nations. Ezekiel 38:13 describes these nations as just observing the Gog-Magog Battle. A Psalm 83 scenario where Israel has to subjugate its surrounding neighbors would be the most logical forerunning to the Gog-Magog event. If that is the case, Turkey will lose the alliance it just made with Syria when Syria is conquered by Israel and its capital Damascus is destroyed by a nuclear attack (Isa. 17:1-14; Jer. 49:23-27).
Has Turkey made a wise move?
The end result of an invasion by such a seemingly invincible coalition on a seemingly unprotected Israel will surprise Turkey and its allies and shock the world. The invading nations are in truth being manipulated by God, pulled out of their lands as with "hooks in [their] jaws" (Ezek. 38:4), so that those nations can feel the "hot anger... [of] the Sovereign LORD" (Ezek. 38:18). God will drag Turkey and its allies to the "mountains of Israel" to "execute judgment upon him [Gog] with plague and bloodshed... torrents of rain, hailstones and burning sulfur on him and on his troops and on the many nations with him" (Ezek. 38:22).
God uses this battle for three purposes. Firstly, the hostile Muslim nations will have their collective backs broken, thrusting Israel into becoming the newest world power.
Secondly, the religion of Islam will be so greatly demoralized that it should see a mass exodus of its acolytes joining a coming one-world religion.
Thirdly and most importantly, God personally and supernaturally getting involved in destroying Turkey and its allies will "show my [God's] greatness and my holiness, and I will make myself known in the sight of many nations. Then they will know that I am the LORD" (Ezek. 38:23). By His supernatural victory in the Gog-Magog Battle, God reintroduces Himself to the world and declares in no uncertain terms that He is personally defending Israel.
God will turn Turkey's new hostilities towards Israel and its subsequent defeat into good for Israel and the world. All will know there is a God.