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As Turkey Brazenly Reestablishes its Caliphate in the Balkans, a Bosnian Muslim ex-Ambassador Asks: JUST WHAT IS ISRAEL UP TO IN THE BALKANS?!

Bosnia’s former ambassador to Turkey — who, surprise-surprise, now lives in Turkey — is further stoking Turks (and anyone else who’ll listen) against Israel.

In what might be the mother of all hypocrisies, former ambassador Hajrudin Somun — who served under the fundamentalist wartime Bosnian president Alija Izetbegovic — tries to cast suspicion on Israel for turning its diplomatic attentions to the Balkans, where Turkey has been operating unimpeded for decades.

After Turkey’s and Syria’s joint act of war against Israel this summer — which prompted Israel to make an overdue reassessment of, and shift in, its alliances in the Balkans — this Bosnian transplant to Turkey is deflecting attention from Turkish provocations against Israel and some Balkan entities, and directing it to Israel’s diplomatically sound reactions to those provocations, as well as to its warnings to the region and its standard diplomatic visits. In Turkish newspaper Today’s Zaman, Somun paints Israeli visits with Balkans leaders as conniving and underhanded, and demands to know Israel’s “designs” on the region. In fact, Israel is discussing common security concerns given Islamic designs on the region, albeit with precious little attention paid to specifically Turkish designs. After all, the Balkans is the Ottomans’ to reclaim!

What is Israel aiming for in the Balkans? by Hajrudin Somun (Aug. 17)

Something strange has been going on in the course of events that have been unfolding over more than half a year in Israel’s policy and position in the Balkans, from its Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman warning that the Balkans are the next target in a global jihad to the Israeli attack on a flotilla carrying peace activists [sic] in international waters off the coast of Gaza.

If we cannot make a clear correlation between these events, we could at least ask about Israel’s aims in the Balkans. The flotilla episode was just the latest, but also a sure sign that a breaking up of relations established decades earlier in the region wider than the Middle East is going on and that Israel is having a hard time [acclimating] to such developments.

Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski’s visit to Israel in the first days of 2010 was marked by a warning he was given by Foreign Minister Lieberman in Jerusalem. Gruevski was cautioned that Macedonia must be “suitably prepared” in order to prevent what happened in Africa and South America from happening in the Balkans. Lieberman learned that “current data testify to the fact” that the Balkan region is “global jihad’s next destination for creating an infrastructure and recruiting activists.” He added that “jihad in the Balkans is funded by Iran and radical Saudi Arabian elements” and that “they recruited Bosnian Muslims and Albanians in Kosovo and Macedonia to wage terror.”

[Lieberman] did not retreat from using Islamic jihad’s “encroaching threat” to persuade Macedonia and other countries in the region to improve their relations with Israel.

Israel’s relations with most countries in the Balkans were determined by the so-called Middle East crisis for almost half a century. Of all states ruled by communists, only Romania did not break diplomatic relations with Israel after the wars in the Middle East. Although not communist, Greece was a good example in that regard. Contrary to its reservations about Israeli policy and its traditionally good relations with Arabs, and in particular its great sympathy for the Palestinian cause, Greece has over the past few years improved its relations and cooperation with Israel, even in the military sphere.

Bulgaria is an even better example of such improvement. Its prime minister, Boyko Borisov, visited Tel Aviv last January, only a week after his Macedonian colleague. There he met with President Shimon Peres, who recalled how Bulgaria had prevented the deportation of its Jews to Nazi concentration camps during World War II and praised cooperation between the two countries “in all fields, including fighting terrorism and climate change.” After signing an agreement on military cooperation, Prime Minister Borisov discussed the possibility of Israeli aircraft using Bulgarian bases in training exercises.

The improvement of relations between Israel and Serbia and the establishment of special ties with Bosnian Serbs have its roots in the Slobodan Milosevic regime’s aggression [sic] against Croatia and Bosnia in the 1990s and was explained best by Igor Primoratz, a professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. “From the outset,” he wrote, “Israel’s stand on the Balkan conflict has been quite different from that of most of the world, including the Jewish Diaspora: it has been clearly and consistently pro-Serbian.” He found the explanation of such an approach in Israel’s history. “Israel was [created],” he says, “at the price of turning the larger part of the native Palestinian population into expellees of refugees. Its continued existence as an ethnic, Jewish state is predicated on not readmitting the exiled Palestinians.”

During Israel’s offensive against Gaza at the end of 2009…[w]hile Serbian President Boris Tadic was more restrained, and Bosnian Foreign Minister Alkalaj urged Israel to stop its attacks on Gaza, Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik went so far as to send a letter of support to President Peres. He offered full support to Israeli efforts to “ensure security and peace” for the Israeli people.

Croatia, Montenegro and even Kosovo are also included in Israel’s diplomatic efforts to enhance its relations with the region. High-ranking officials from Israel and most Balkan states exchanged visits in 2009 and 2010. These visits were more frequent than in previous decades. Apart from the abolition of visa restrictions, military cooperation and the “fight against terrorism” were the most frequent subjects of talks and agreements.

The May 31 flotilla raid was, apart from other repercussions, a second “Gaza indicator” of Israel setting its sights on the Balkans. The immediate regional reaction was more that of surprise than condemning the Israeli attack on the aid ships. Some countries treaded cautiously due to their national interests, while others did not want to harm their already improved relations with Israel.

Relying on earlier sympathies and similarities that led some observers to call it the “Israel of the Balkans,” Kosovo still hopes it will be recognized by Israel. Greek officials did condemn Israel’s use of “deadly force on an aid flotilla” and scrapped the Greek-Israeli air force exercise “Minas 2010” short[ly] after the raid, but relations between the two countries were not interrupted. President George Papandreou visited Israel already in July, where he said that “the strengthening of bilateral relations is our steadfast policy.”

Due to their particular interests, Bulgarian officials did not even hide their sympathies for the Israeli military’s action. First, Israeli Welfare Minister Isaac Herzog went to Sofia at the beginning of June to inform his hosts that “Israel is ready to divert up to 400,000 tourists to Bulgaria from Turkey.” Then Foreign Minister Nikolay Mladenov in July went to Tel Aviv, where he spoke about the “strong, emotional connection and responsibility on our part to ensure Israel’s safety and its future.” He also said that Turkey had reacted to the Israeli raid of the flotilla “a little bit too strongly.”

By mentioning Turkey, I am finally reaching the most sensitive point of Israel’s sudden and keen interest in the Balkans.

First, losing Turkey as the main regional strategic ally, Israel was forced to search for whatever alternative — if not a country, then at least a region. There was no other direction to go in than towards Southeast Europe. Israel found itself isolated in the region, having only a weak partner in Egypt and facing small, but dangerous, enemies in Hamas and Hezbullah. By trampling and devastating Gaza, Israel also became more isolated in the world and more criticized by its main ally, the United States. The deterioration of its relations with Turkey was perhaps the major political consequence of Israel’s military adventure in Gaza.

… Israel is urging some Balkan countries, including Bulgaria, Romania and Greece, to improve their military cooperation with Israel and open their airspace to Israeli aircraft. In that sense Israel perhaps hopes that Kosovo will become a military substitute for Turkey because there is already a heavy US military presence there.

Trying to [make neutral-seeming] its main aims in the Balkans, Israel is putting them not only in an economic, but also a historical, religious and “terrorist” context as well…Being aware that they will have the support of many Christians in the region, Israeli politicians are also stressing the religious factor. When they speak about the threat of terrorism, they mean “Islamic terrorism.” During the Gaza events, a Bosnian Serb website, “Serbian Cetnik,” offered “full support to the Israeli people from Republika Srpska” and stressed, “We have the same enemies!” In Serbia [sic], [sic] made known that “during the raid on the Muslim terror ship, Israeli commandos arrested a Bosnian Muslim national of Syrian origin.” There was a reflection of such an approach even in Russia. During the attack on Gaza, Moscow’s Pravda, under the headline “Israel, you are Serbia now!” called on Israel “to grow up and face reality.” “You already have the double advantage, having one in three of your citizens of Russian background,” so that “there is only one block of nations with whom you have any chance: the Orthodox nations.”

Getting back to Lieberman’s warning to the Macedonians about the threat of a global jihad recruiting “Bosnian Muslims and Albanians in Kosovo and Macedonia,” it reminded me of the so-called “Green Transversal,” almost the same geographic line invented in Belgrade before the wars of the 1990s. It was the direction from which all dangers emanate and come to the Balkans and further towards Europe — namely, from Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere. Reading between the lines, I saw that his intention was to say that terrorism is somewhere other than in Israel and that it is perpetuated by someone other than the Israeli administration.

(In that last paragraph Zomun is comparing Israel’s warnings to Macedonia about the jihad against it — in progress for more than a decade now — to the “outlandish” notion of there being an Islamic “Green Corridor,” which he is calling Belgrade-spun propaganda. He is drawing a parallel between Israeli “propaganda” and Serbian “propaganda,” and implying that both countries’ troubles with Muslim terror originated with themselves. Apparently, this Bosnian former ambassador is unaware of what the state-of-the-art arena Sarajevo built for the 1984 Olympics was called: Zetra, short for the very real and very deliberate Zelena Transverzala, or Green Corridor running through the Balkans.)

But the upshot is this: While Turkey has been actively reestablishing its caliphate in the Balkans for years — not to mention everything that Saudi Arabia, UAE, Iran and others of that sort have been up to in the Balkans — this Bosnian Muslim feigns suspicion over Israel warning that this and worse is going on. So you see it’s the Jews who are being underhanded with their warnings to the other infidels, sneakily discerning common infidel concerns with other countries.

Turkey has been maneuvering aggressively in the Balkans for years, not only stoking hostility against Bosnia’s Serb Republic and joining the Islamo-Western chorus mischaracterizing RS’s fears of Islamic usurpations in the region, but also acting hostilely against Serbia vis-a-vis an independent Muslim Kosovo, plus — as we shall see — giving terror a leg up in the region. All the while helping Serbia compromise itself (as it does with other infidel states), by increasing cooperative agreements, as Turkey knows Serbia is in great need since the Islamo-Western devastation of its economy in the 90s, from which it still hasn’t recovered.

As put by Nebojsa Malic — who has written an introduction and two columns about the Ottoman resurgence in the Balkans: Turkey, among other things, “is also the principal champion of the ‘Independent State of Kosova’ among the Islamic countries. The Serbs know all this by now (the government collaborates with the Turks because it’s composed of craven quislings)…”

Please observe below a small sampling of headlines pertaining to Turkish involvement in the region in recent years (some pieces are by Somun himself).

by Julia Gorin

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