외교다변화 이스라엘이 ‘무슬림국가’ 카자흐스탄과 절친인 까닭

[아시아엔=셀림 한 예니아쿤 히브리대 연구원] 이스라엘은 무슬림 국가들과 교류를 다양화하며 질적으로도 관계개선에 적극 나서고 있다. 이스라엘은 불안한 중동지역의 정치·군사적 상황에서 안정과 안보를 확보하려면 새로운 국가전략 수립과 함께 동맹관계 수립의 필요성을 깊이 깨닫고 있다.

이스라엘은 과거 소련연방(USSR) 시절 중앙아시아의 투르크민족 계통의 국가들과는 어떤 교류도 하지 않았다. 이후 소련 붕괴로 중앙아시아의 투르크계 국가들이 잇따라 독립하면서 이스라엘은 이 지역으로 눈을 돌리기 시작했다. 이스라엘은 터키와 우호관계를 발전시키면서 아제르바이잔, 우즈베키스탄, 카자흐스탄 등과도 관계개선에 나서고 있다. 특히 카자흐스탄은 이스라엘과 매우 가까운 외교관계를 유지하고 있다.

투르키스탄 지역은 역사적으로 질곡과 소외를 끊임없이 겪어온 유태인들에게는 가장 안전한 장소였다. 중앙아시아에 거주하던 대부분의 유태인들이 이스라엘 건국과 함께 고국으로 귀국했지만 카자흐스탄에는 현재 3000명의 유태인이 남아있다. 또 투르키스탄 지역에서는 反유대주의 폭력이 한번도 일어나지 않았다.

지난해 12월 네타냐후 이스라엘 총리의 카자흐스탄 방문 후 양국 관계는 더욱 공고해졌다. 카자흐스탄이 이스라엘의 주요동맹국이 된 또 다른 이유는 투르키스탄 지역의 중요성이 날로 커지고 있고 카자흐스탄이 이 지역의 리더일 뿐 아니라 국제기구와 커뮤니티 등에서 크게 활약하고 있기 때문이다.

1992년 아라파트의 카자흐스탄 방문과 팔레스타인의 국가 인정 이후 카자흐스탄과 이란의 관계가 강화되었지만 이스라엘은 끊임없이 카자스흐탄에게 군사기술을 제공해왔다.

이스라엘은 이미 중앙아시아 무슬림 국가들과 우호관계에 있으며 현재는 걸프국가들과의 관계 역시 강화하고 있다. 이란이 시아파 국가들에 손을 뻗치는 것에 대항하여 새로운 협력관계를 이끌어 내려는 전략인 셈이다. 이에 따라 카자흐스탄의 이스라엘과의 동맹관계는 깊어지며 상호 역할 역시 훨씬 중요해질 것이다. 이번 이스라엘 총리의 방문은 이슬람 수니파와의 협력관계에 새로운 돌파구를 개척하려는 시도라고도 해석할 수 있다.

Compulsory and Beneficial Alliance: Israel & Kazakhstan Relations

Selim Han Yeniacun

Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Israel is diversifying and improving relations with Muslim countries with each passing day. In particular, after the slight shift of security policies of Israel from Arab states’ oriented containment policy to nuclear threat of Iran, Israel has needed new strategies and alliances to stabilize her position on the slippery ground in the Middle East. It is hardly undeniable that security perceptions of the State of Israel have undergone a more intense change since the Arab Spring but the roots of Israel’s cooperation, especially ones that were meant for Turkestan, date back to the early 90s.

Israel did not engage in any kind of interaction with the Turkestan region because of the USSR, which had furthered its close relations with the Arab states since the six-day wars in 1967. Following the independence of the Turkish states, independent state structures in the Central Asia have become an attraction for Israel’s interests and power, like many other states on the Earth. Having developed good relations with Turkey since its foundation, Israel has gained a serious advantage in the current international real politics with Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan, which have established close relations since the 1990s. Among the ATUK countries, Kazakhstan has a significant role in terms of close ties with Israel. Nursultan Nazarbayev, the president of Kazakhstan, has defined the country as a secular state many times since their independence. That is why Israel and Kazakhstan could deal with each other based on a governance mentality more easily than other Muslim countries.

Of course, the mentality of secularism in Kazakhstan is not just one point that brings two states closer. Beyond the interest-centered state policies and collaborations, the Turkestan region has a historical background as one of the safest place for Jews. Today, almost three thousand members of the Jewish population live in Kazakhstan in peace despite the fact that most of the Jews in Central Asia migrated to Israel. Kazakhstan, also, provide them cultural and religious rights. Furthermore, eve with the passing of two decades, there is no evidence that anti-Semitism has never been raised in the Turkestan territories. Jews were coming back to Kazakhstan with interstate relations during the beginning of the 90’s while Turkestan’seconomic, strategic, and political potential were rising.

After Prime Minister Netanyahu’s visit last December, Israel and Kazakhstan relations once again became part of the agenda, symbolizing thehigh-level mobility of regional powers in the multipolar world order. One other key feature, which makes Kazakhstan as a precious partner of Israel, is steady growth of the importance of Turkestan. Kazakhstan is not just a regional leader, but also an important global actor. Being already a member of more than 70 supranational organizations and interstate communities, including the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, The Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Eurasian Economic Union, and the UN Human Rights Council, she has recently been elected to the UN Security Council as a non-permanent member for 2017-2018.

Furthermore, Israel and Kazakhstan also have unique trade relations. Israel’s trade partnership with Kazakhstan has sharply increased since they joined the Eurasian Economic Union in 2015, which gives free trade opportunities to Israel. Kazakhstan is a vital oil supplier to Israel. Almost 25% of oil demands of Israel are supplied by Kazakhstan. Baku-Tblisi-Ceyhan (BTC) Pipeline has being extended toward Israel’s Ashkelon and Eilat oil terminals for exporting Kazakh oil potential to Europe and East Asia. As a side note, Israel is Kazakhstan’s fifth largest Asian trade partner, and imports over $1.4 billion-worth of goods from Kazakhstan each year.

President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Ehud Barak increased cooperation between the two countriesin 2000’s and 2010’s respectively in order to make new leaps in various areas from the agricultural service sector in Kazakhstan. Although Arafat’s visit to Kazakhstan and the recognition of Palestine in 1992strengthened trade ties between Kazakhstan and Iran, Israel has never given up to transferring military technologies to Kazakhstan. The two states have been counterterrorism partners for almost two decades. Kazakhstan’s fear of terrorist attacks rose precipitously during the mid-1990s, due to the rising presence of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) and Hizbut-Tahrir, the destabilization created by the Tajikistan civil war and Taliban threat from Afghanistan.

In conclusion, Israel already has good relations with Muslim countries such as Turkey, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Egypt, Jordan, and Morocco and iscurrently enhancing relations with other Gulf Countries. As I mentioned before, Israel is trying to draw new cooperation line against the Iran’s rising position over the Shia populated countries. Thus, the significance of Turkestan regions continues to rise. Based on this perspective, Kazakhstan’s role over Israel’s alliances is also becoming crucial. Israel’s visit proves that Jewish policies will attempt to find new strategies for cooperation with Sunni Islam according to the words of Netanyahu. His previous visits to both Astana and Baku passed with connoted words of cooperation among Muslims and Jews and also the statement, “We are tigers not rabbits” is culturally and sentimentally important for Turkestan people because of the most powerful animal on the steppes (tigers). This word was said against Iran and it gives a clue of the new Turkic-Jewish alliance strip from the Turkestan region to Mediterranean basin.

 

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