Turkey Shifts Its Allegiances to Anti-Western Islam


(WSJ) It's been a decade since Turkey threatened to invade Syria because Damascus was harboring Abdullah Ocalan, the leader of the Kurdish PKK terrorist group. "We will say 'shalom' to the Israelis on the Golan Heights" is how one Turkish newspaper then described the country's mood, capturing its attitude toward Syrians and Israelis alike.

Times change—and so do countries. Earlier this month, Turkey cancelled an annual multinational air force exercise because Israel was scheduled to participate in it, despite historically close ties between the Turkish and Israeli militaries. In a recent interview with Britain's Guardian newspaper, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said of Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that "there is no doubt he is our friend."

Mr. Erdogan was also among the first to offer Ahmadinejad a congratulatory call after June's fraudulent elections and has called Iran's nuclear program "peaceful and humanitarian." As for Syria, relations have never been warmer: The two countries are even planning joint military exercises.

Nations do not have the luxury of picking their neighbors, and the Turks can certainly be forgiven for not wanting to be at daggers drawn along several hundred miles of common borders. But what's happened to Turkey's foreign policy—and the values that inform those policies—since Mr. Erdogan and his Islamist AKP party came to power in 2003 looks more like a fundamental shift in Turkey's strategic priorities than it does a mere relaxing of regional tensions.

In January, for instance, Mr. Erdogan publicly rebuked Shimon Peres at a meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, calling the Israeli President a "liar" and saying—in connection to the war in Gaza—that "when it comes to killing, you know well how to kill." Soon thereafter, Mr. Erdogan hosted a dinner in honor of Ali Osman Taha, the vice president of Sudan. Apparently, there were no lectures about Darfur.

Nor has Israel been the only country in the Middle East affected by Turkey's changing attitudes. As analyst Soner Cagaptay of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy notes, "the AKP's foreign policy has not promoted sympathy toward all Muslim states. Rather, the party has promoted solidarity with Islamist, anti-Western regimes (Qatar and Sudan, for example) while dismissing secular, pro-Western Muslim governments (Egypt, Jordan and Tunisia)." That also goes among the Palestinians, where Mr. Erdogan has called on the world to recognize Hamas while being dismissive of Mahmoud Abbas, the Authority's more secular-minded president.

In other words, Mr. Erdogan's turn against Israel is symptomatic of a broader shift in Turkish policy, one that cannot bode well for core U.S. interests. As a secular Muslim state, Turkey has been a pillar of NATO and a bulwark against the political radicalism (Communist, Baathist, Islamist) of its various neighbors. Now Mr. Erdogan may be gambling that Turkey's future lies at the head of the Muslim world, rather than at the tail of its Western counterpart.

Perhaps none of this should be all that surprising, given how long Europe has brushed off Turkish ambitions to join its Union. One may hope that the Turks, who have long been proud of their traditions of secularism, tolerance, freedom, and as a bridge between East and West, may not be so tempted to trade them in for darker glories.



Copyright © Jewish Internet Defense Force
All Rights Reserved

LEGAL:
The views expressed on this website do not necessarily reflect the views of the JIDF. The content is not intended to malign any religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company or individual. This site's intention is to do no harm, to not injure others, defame, or libel. All data and information provided on this site is for informational, educational, and/or entertainment purposes only. The Jewish Internet Defense Force (JIDF) makes no representations as to accuracy, currentness, correctness, suitability, or validity of any information on this site and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its display or use, or access to this site. We are not responsible for translation or interpretation of content. We are not responsible for defamatory statements bound to government, religious or other laws from the reader’s country of origin. All information is provided on an as-is basis with no warranties, and confers no rights. We are not responsible for the actions, content, accuracy, opinions expressed, privacy policies, products or services or for any damages or losses, directly or indirectly, caused or alleged to have been caused as a result of your use or reliance on such information on the Jewish Internet Defense Force site. This site includes links to other sites and blogs operated by third parties. These links are provided as a convenience to you and as an additional avenue of access to the information contained therein. We have not reviewed all of the information on other sites and are not responsible for the content of any other sites or any products or services that may be offered through other sites. The inclusion of these links in no way indicates their endorsement, support or approval of the contents of this site or the policies or positions of the JIDF. We have the right to edit, remove or deny access to content that is determined to be, in our sole discretion, unacceptable. These Terms and Conditions of Use apply to you when you view, access or otherwise use this blog and the Website. The JIDF is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.
Related Posts with Thumbnails