Turkey, long America’s most reliable, and Israel’s only, ally in the Muslim world, is now being called anti-American, anti-Israel, and most alarming, Islamist, especially after the deadly May 31 incident when Turkish activists sailed into an Israeli blockade of Gaza and came off second best.
Turkey’s Prime Minister, Recap Erdogan (pronounced Re-jep ERD-uh-WAN) is the favorite whipping boy of just about anybody who is for Israel or against Iran, radical Islamists, or Muslims in general. It’s ironic that Erdogan, who has led Turkey toward most of the western democratic-style reforms demanded by the European Union as a condition for Turkey’s acceptance, is at now being accused by many, including many Turks, of wanting to return Turkey to the Muslim caliphate of pre-Ataturk days.
One of the West’s most insightful observers of Turkish affairs is South African journalist and author Hugh Pope, who for years headed the Istanbul office of the Wall Street Journal. Pope has an op-ed in today’s Haaretz, Israel’s most respected newspaper headlined Erdogan is not the bogeyman. In it he debunks the idea of an “Islamist foreign policy for Turkey, and argues that Turkey’s historic pro-Europe tilt still matters most, and that the deterioration of relations with Israel is a reflection of widespread public opinion in Turkey that Israel is treating the Palestinians unjustly. He believes that Turkey will be eager to mend relations with Israel when Israel is perceived as seeking peace.
Pope’s op-ed is worth reading.
Tags: Ataturk, blockade, caliphate, democratic-style reforms, Erdogan is not the bogeyman, ethics, European Union, Gaza, Haaretz, Hugh Pope, Iran, Islamist foreign policy, Israel, May 31 incident, Muslim world, Palestinians, radical Islamist, Recap Erdogan, Turkey, Wall Street Journal