Israel analysts see Turkey radicalizing, becoming �Iran No. 2�

World Tribune (Link) (September 15, 2010)

Israel�s defense community has assessed that Turkey was moving toward becoming a radical and nuclear Islamic state.

Officials and leading analysts asserted that the government of Prime Minister Recep Erdogan was rapidly dismantling the secular Turkish state. They said Erdogan could turn Turkey into another Iran, a radical Muslim state with nuclear weapons.

�There could be a deep strategic change,� Amos Gilad, a senior Defense Ministry official, said.

Officials cited Turkey�s referendum that would revise the secular constitution. They said the 26 amendments approved by 58 percent of voters on Sept. 12 would significantly increase the authority of Erdogan�s ruling Justice and Development Party while marginalizing Turkey�s military.

Leading officials expressed concern over Erdogan�s growing power in Turkey and his success in intimidating the once-powerful Turkish military, Middle East Newsline reported. They said Erdogan could use his referendum victory to expand Turkey�s alliance with neighboring Iran and Syria while fomenting another crisis with Israel.

Turkey has launched plans to build at least two nuclear reactors and produce enriched uranium. But Israeli analysts did not rule out that under Erdogan Turkey could acquire weapons technology under the cover of a civilian nuclear program.

Erdogan, said to be heavily supported by Saudi Arabia, was expected to further downgrade relations with Israel. One prospect was Turkish sponsorship or support for another flotilla to the Gaza Strip. In May 2010, nine passengers, eight of them Turks, were killed in a bloody Israel Navy interception of a Turkish-sponsored flotilla to the Gaza Strip.

�If there is not a change in personality, then Turkey will become Iran No. 2,� former National Security Council director Uzi Dayan said.