Erdogan, Champion of Mideast Moderation: Reality or Mirage?

Erdogan has intensified his critique of Israel in the aftermath of Biden’s failed visit to Israel, but, as in Washington, so far the reality falls far short of appearances.
Along with the rest of the world, Erdogan has intensified his own rhetoric against Israel since Biden’s failed visit to Israel, judging from Israel’s Ynet News on March 19, 2010. Erdogan’s critique scores on several fronts, leaving him still the rhetorical leader among moderates:

  • Ties with Turkey will not return to normal until Israel ends the siege on Gaza;
  • The approval of new homes in Ramat Shlomo is “unacceptable” and shows that Israel “wants to erase the Palestinians step by step”;
  • Israel’s behavior “can harm regional stability.”

Ankara is still significantly ahead of Washington, having not only laid out demands at the highest level for changes in Israeli behavior in Jerusalem and Gaza but also underscoring the negative international impact of Israel’s conduct.
Going slightly beyond mere rhetoric, Erdogan thus made it clear that bilateral ties are being intentionally downgraded pending a change in Israel’s behavior. This was already clear, but his public affirmation at least makes it official that Turkey has crossed the line from words—so far Washington’s limit—to action. Now the question is whether Turkey or other states will move on to more substantive action than a vague negative tone in relations. More specifically, will Erdogan be able to entice Obama to follow his lead?
Erdogan is gently scouting out new diplomatic ground, laying a trail that seems designed to be as easy as possible for Washington to follow. For example, Erdogan’s reference to Israel harming regional stability follows closely from the recent comments of Petraeus.
The reality of Turkey’s ties to Israel (Israel National News, 3/16/10) are far warmer than Erdogan’s words might suggest, however. This week’s visit by IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi to Turkey for a NATO counterterrorism conference, despite the fact that Israel is not a NATO member and his meeting with Turkish Defense Minister Vecdi Gonul show clearly the strength of bilateral ties and the depth of the international isolation of the stateless and marginalized Palestinians.
Erdogan would undoubtedly be delighted to get some credit for helping resolve any of the various regional disputes, but he has yet to demonstrate that his anti-Israeli rhetoric is much more than a cover for the continuation of a profitable bilateral military relationship at the expense of both Palestinians and Turkey’s own Kurds.
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One comment on “Erdogan, Champion of Mideast Moderation: Reality or Mirage?

  1. I do not trust Erdogan and Turkey. He claims that “Ties with Turkey will not return to normal until Israel ends the siege on Gaza; The approval of new homes in Ramat Shlomo is “unacceptable” and shows that Israel “wants to erase the Palestinians step by step”;
    Israel’s behavior “can harm regional stability.””

    These are just empty words to appease the Turkish and Muslim public. Also, Turkey is rival of Iran. Iran is advancing, is gaining recognition and is standing up to USA-Israel and Turkey does not want to be left behind and be seen as the puppet of Israel-USA. Israel has had complete siege on Gaza ever since Palestinians elected Hamas members for their leaders, not that Palestinians were living freely and happily before that under Israeli occupation and bombings. Israel has been stealing Palestinian lands and building houses for its squatters for decades. Israel has been harming the “regional stability” for over sixty years. Yet, throughout the years, Turkey was silent and has been strengthening cultural, commercial and military ties with Israel. Erdogan is not new politician in Turkey; he has been around for many years. Turkey allowed Israeli fighter planes to fly over Turkish territories when Israel bombed Syria. Actions speak louder than words and Turkey falls far behind in actions to support its empty words.

    Any country such as Turkey that allows U.S. military bases and/or NATO bases on its lands is not an independent country and has no independent voice.

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