The Threat of Erdogan
And what the U.S. must do about it.
By Joseph Puder
Turkey’s Dictator Recep Tayyip Erdogan, assembled with great urgency Sunni-Muslim leaders from the Middle East, Asia, and Africa, as well as Iran’s Shiite President Hassan Rouhani. The assembled representatives of the 57 member-states of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) held this “emergency meeting” in Istanbul, Turkey, by virtue of Turkey’s holding the presidency of the OIC. The ostensible reason for the meeting was the Gaza “March of the Return,” and the U.S. embassy relocation to Jerusalem.
According to Al-Jazeera, the Qatari based network also funded by the Qatari regime, Erdogan called on Muslim leaders to “unite and confront Israel.” He mentioned “70 years of Israeli occupation,” wrongly charging that Israel, before 1967, “occupied” Palestinian lands. Apparently, in the dictator’s mind, the UN never voted for partition of Palestine in 1947. Erdogan, obfuscating the fact that the Arab community in Palestine rejected the UN partition plan, while the Jewish community in Palestine accepted it, fulminated against the Jewish state, distortimg history in his blind hatred. He conveniently disregarded the fact that the Arab armies of Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and contingents from the Islamic world along with the Arabs of Palestine attacked and sought to annihilate the newborn Jewish state. Actually it was the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan that occupied the lands allotted to the Arab-Palestinians by the UN, which they (the Palestinians) rejected in November, 1947.
Erdogan shamelessly compared Israeli treatment of Palestinians to the Nazi treatment of Jews during the Holocaust. He spouted that, “The children of those who were subjected to all sorts of torture in concentration camps during WWII are now attacking Palestinians with methods that put the Nazis to shame.” Once again Erdogan twisted reality that could only make neo-Nazis in Germany feel redeemed. Jews in concentration camps could only wish to have had the opportunity to change places with the Palestinians. Haj Amin al-Husseini, the Mufti of Jerusalem and leader of the Arab-Muslim community in Palestine, was in fact Hitler’s ally and urged the Nazis to expedite the murder of the Jews.
In his viciously anti-Israel and anti-Semitic incitement, Erdogan said that, “To take action for Palestinians massacred by Israeli bandits is to show the whole world that humanity is not dead.” Naturally, he again disregarded the fact that the Hamas terrorists ruling Gaza, paid and organized for this attempt to breach the Israeli border with Gaza, using arms, fire bearing kites, and Molotov cocktails against Israeli soldiers, and if possible Israeli civilians. Behind the “demonstrators” were Hamas terrorists with an attack plan to terrorize Israeli communities around Gaza. Any democratic state charged with the safekeeping of its people and protecting its borders from an invasion would have acted with less restraint than Israel did.
Erdogan’s blatant hypocrisy is astonishing. He has butchered thousands of innocent Kurds in Turkey, Iraq, and Syria under the pretext of fighting terrorism. Yet, he has the audacity to preach “morality” to Israel. The Hamas terrorists vow daily to destroy the Jewish state, while Kurdish citizens in Turkey seek only cultural autonomy and equal rights.
Just before the OIC gathering, Erdogan spoke at Istanbul’s Yanikapi fairgrounds to an estimated 10,000 people. He charged that, “Since 1947, Israel has been free to do what it likes, but this reality can be undone…if we unite.” Turkey has subsequently recalled its envoy to Israel and the U.S. in protest over the Gaza situation and the relocation of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem.
Erdogan’s unrestrained verbal attacks and threats against Israel, and his defense of the Hamas terrorists are aimed to portray himself as the defender of Islam and Muslims everywhere in preparation for a snap election he has called to be held next month (June 24, 2018). In this pivotal election he seeks to abolish the prime minister’s role, and assert absolute presidential power by overturning the parliamentary rule. Last year Erdogan narrowly won approval for a set of constitutional amendments that will transform Turkey from a parliamentary democracy into an executive presidential system. A deteriorating economic outlook for Turkey prompted Erdogan to rush the elections. Another reason is that the elections will take place during the “state of emergency” in which Erdogan purged his political opponents, cracked down on dissent, and eliminated independent news outlets. He has made Turkey the world’s largest jailer of journalists.
Erdogan’s recent moves attest to his transforming Turkey from a previously secular republic in the Kemal Ataturk tradition with its pro-western orientation, to an Islamist, neo-Ottoman dictatorship, that is increasingly anti-western, and extremely anti-Israel. The last decade has seen Erdogan’s Turkey (in power since 2002) develop close ties with the Islamic world while turning against Israel and Jews (with many recorded anti-Semitic outbursts) as part of his new foreign policy. Under his leadership, Turkey has gradually experienced the islamization of the Turkish society. He has set limits on the sale of alcohol, supported Islamic religious schools, and appointed individuals with an Islamist ideology (Muslim Brotherhood) in key positions in the private and public sector.
While professing to fight with the U.S. against the Islamic State (IS), Erdogan’s Turkey, a member of NATO, is cooperating with the IS. Turkey has allowed IS fighters from abroad to cross its territory on their way to Iraq and Syria. Erdogan provided IS fighters with logistical support as well as medical treatment in Turkish hospitals. Erdogan instructed his troops near Kobani (on the Syrian-Turkish border) not to interfere in the IS forces siege and butchery of the Kurds defenders. He has also refused to allow U.S. fighter planes to use the Incirlik Air Base to bomb IS bases in Syria and Iraq.
Erdogan’s Turkey has developed warm relations with its historical rival, the Islamic Republic of Iran (historically known as Persia). In June, 2010, Turkey voted against the U.S initiative to increase sanctions on Iran. Turkey has aided and abetted the Ayatollahs regime to evade U.S. sanctions. Under Erdogan, Turkey’s dangerous adventurism poses a threat to regional stability. It is challenging Greece on agreed boundaries and has conquered a third of Cyprus’ territory. In addition, Erdogan’s Turkey has a military presence in Iraq and Syria, and military bases in Qatar and Sudan. There is also the “love triangle” of Russia, Iran, and Erdogan’s Turkey. Iran and Russia have given Ankara a green light to advance in Syria against the Kurds. Turkey in return, supports Iran’s encroachment toward Israel’s Golan Heights. Erdogan has moreover contracted with Moscow to receive the S-400 missile defense system.
It is therefore imperative that the U.S. Congress stop the sale of the most advanced F-35 fighter planes to Turkey. The U.S. must deny Erdogan’s Turkey arms that will likely be used to fuel his adventurism in the Middle East, and aimed at U.S. allies such as the Kurds. Turkey, ruled by Erdogan’s Islamist Justice and Development Party (AKP), is no longer a reliable western ally, and should be removed from NATO. Erdogan’s Turkey poses a serious threat to Israel and the moderate Arab states.