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A leading Israeli academic this week declared that a loose alliance of Israel, Turkey and Jordan could serve as a basis for future co-operation among Middle East states. Professor Ephraim Inbar, of the Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies of Bar-Ilan University, was in London to take part in a two-day colloquium on strategic perspectives in the Middle East on the eve of the new millennium. It was organised by the British-Israel Public Affairs Centre (BIPAC) in association with the Mediterranean studies programmed of King's College, London.

The colloquium brought together academics, diplomats and military men from Israel, Jordan, Turkey, Britain and the United States.

Israel and Turkey have been co-operating militarily, while Jordan and Israel have been working together on security issues since the 1994 peace agreement between them.

Stressing that this was not an 'anti-Arab alliance,' Professor Inbar said: 'Israel, Jordan and Turkey, being pro-Western and pro-American, are sceptical of any analysis which sees an easily pacifiable Middle East.'

Turkey's ambassador to Israel, Barlas Ozener, reminded the audience that his country was no stranger to the Middle East, since, during the Ottoman Empire, it had ruled the region for 400 years.

However, during the Cold War, he said, it had other priorities, such as joining Nato and addressing potential threats from the Soviet Union.

The Gulf War, and particularly Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait, he maintained, had strengthened the realisation in Ankara that Turkey had to take a leading role in the Middle East, 'to be active and to foresee the actions of certain countries and leaders.'

From the Jewish Chronicle


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