Report: Turkish PM wants to visit Gaza
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is considering a trip to Gaza in order to break the siege imposed on the Strip by Israel, Lebanese newspaper al-Mustaqbal reported Saturday, quoting “knowledgeable sources”.
The newspaper said that “as part of the open conflict between Turkey and Israel following the massacre against the ‘freedom sail’ to Gaza and the protest sparked in the world, Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan is considering going to Gaza himself in order to break the blockade imposed on the Strip.”
The sources noted that the Turkish leader had raised the option in a conversation with his associates. According to the report, Erdogan told the American administration he was planning to ask his navy to escort another aid flotilla, but that American officials asked him to delay the plan in order to look into the matter.
Turkey’s ambassador to Washington warned Friday that his country could be forced to break relations with Israel unless it apologizes for its raid on the Marmara.
In a meeting with reporters, Namik Tan outlined three Turkish demands for Israel including a public apology. He said Israel also must accept a credible independent investigation of the raid and end its blockade against Gaza.
When asked if Turkey might break relations, Tan cited the high emotions of the Turkish public about the raid. He said: “We don’t want this to go to that point.”
This is political theater at its best. But towards what end? I assume Turkey isn’t spoiling for a real fight with Israel, at least not yet. So what’s behind Erdogan’s gambit? Israel clearly does not want to further alienate it’s erstwhile Turkish friend either. Yet they rely on the principle of deterrence to keep the Arab world at bay, and they would be hard pressed not to back down from any military confrontation imposed upon them by Erdogan’s navy. The humiliation of Israel’s elite soldiers on the Mavi Marmara is not an episode they are willing to repeat. If this does turn hot, I fear the Turkish army will fully obey orders coming from PM Erdogan and his Islamists, even if it means firing on the Israeli navy. Could this political stunt in the Med by demented “peace activists” be the spark that ignites the conflagration? And yet, the coming to blows of these two Middle Eastern powers as yet seems inconceivable.
In Turkey, with the election of Erdogan and his Development Party, Islamism is in, secularism is out. The old guard in the Turk military under whom the secular state had found safeguard since the 1920s are now largely gone, many purged by Erdogan himself, who is a committed Islamist. Secularism is not really in the Turkish DNA– it never has been– but was imposed on the Turk populace by the secular elites above. But they too have been ousted. Thus, under the populist and devout Muslim, Erdogan, Turkey is now returning to the natural order of things that existed for over half a millenia prior to the fall of the Ottoman Empire and the rise of modern Turkey after the first World War. Just in time, too, as the East and West now settle into their old civilizational stand off, which saw only a brief interruption during the post-colonial decades of the Cold War.
Historically speaking, Ataturk and his secularist generals were johnny come lateleys, and the secularism he imposed on Turkey in 1924 was a poor fit for a nation that had ruled over the Middle East as an Islamic caliphate for over five centuries. The Ottoman caliphate, inherently Muslim and theocratic in nature, is Turkey’s true cultural heritage– not secular democracy. Erdogan and the Islamists now firmly ensconced in Ankara seem determined to turn back Ataturk’s secular clock by resuming their country’s natural place in the world as a type of 21st century Islamic caliphate, with the Arab world as their natural subjects.
He doesn’t aim to do this by conquest, but by popular acclaim. Even as you read this, he is being exalted as the hero of Gaza. Thus he aims to ride Muslim hatred of the Jewish State all the way to the top and crown himself an archetypal Islamic savior, a “Mahdi” type– a messiah to unite the Ummah under the leadership of a resurgent Ottoman caliphate. With apologies to Ahmadinejad, Erdogan is not willing to sit around waiting for the appearance of this “Mahdi”, this savior of Muslim prophecy– he is taking a more affirmative approach and vying directly for the job; if not for himself, then for Turkey as a regional power and seat of a neo-Caliphate. That is what’s behind the incident in the Med, which I expect was organized with the full blessings of the Turk government in Ankara.
Meanwhile on the homefront, wasn’t the election of Barack Obama supposed to herald the coming of a New Dawn of world peace and cooperation following the disaster of Bush and his cowboy antics? Wasn’t this the unstated goal of President Obama’s “unclenched fist” towards our enemies, and cold shoulders towards our friends? Because any good Leftist will tell you it’s good old fashion American meddling and Western interfering that is the cause of world instability. It’s our fault. We need only stand back and forego our neo-imperialists ways for the world to settle back down into the global nirvana that existed prior to the days of Western empire. Thus his apology tours, as he telegraphs to the world precisely this view. So how’s that foreign policy in reverse working out for you, Mr. President? Is the world becoming a safer place without our imperialist meddling? This is the same Obama, after all, who not too long ago lavished effusive praise on Erdogan— while famously showing Netanyahu out through the back door– even as Erdogan turns towards Syria and Iran and looks East towards the future. And why shouldn’t he? Erdogan and the world’s thugocracies smell weakness in the West. We are no longer the strong horse.
And where has Barack been these days? I noticed he did make one of his usual appeals for calm (as per formula) and something about an investigation. He also sent his Veep to take the heat– or the fall– on Israel’s behalf. But not much else. Somewhat detached, isn’t he? It seems the White House strategy is always to avoid physical proximity to anything that hints of “crisis,” and to remain “calm”– whether that be in the Med or in the Gulf– lest that crisis rub off on him before the next election. He is, after all, the no-drama Obama. But as with the oil spill, he can run, but he can’t hide from this. The Muslim world wants the Zionist entity destroyed, and Israel is just as determined to survive. Those events will unfold regardless of Obama’s detachment, and he will soon have to declare himself for, or against. When there’s a gung ho Rightwinger in the White House, Perhaps you can make the case that America goes looking for trouble. But when you get these insipid limp-wristed Democrats in charge, trouble, it seems, comes looking for us.