Ambitious Turkey

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Supporting Qaddafi: Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan helped Qaddafi by issuing bothdemagogic proclamations (“Turkey will never be a party that points a gun at the Libyan people”) and practical proposals (e.g., that Qaddafi salvage his rule by appointing a president). Ankara also offered, according to Hürriyet newspaper “to be involved in the distribution of humanitarian aid in Libya, to manage the Benghazi airport and to deploy naval forces to control the area between Benghazi and the Greek island of Crete.” In gratitude, Qaddafi replied, “We are all Ottomans.” In contrast, Libyan rebels fumed at and marched against the Turkish government.

Helping Damascus: In January, Ankara agreed totrain Syrian troops; in March, Erdoğan publicly advised Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad how to maintain power, perhaps fearful that Syria’s 1.4 million Kurds might win more autonomy and cause unrest among Turkey’s approximately 15 million Kurds.

Anti-Zionism: Ankara has emerged as the leader in delegitimizing Israel. Davutoğlu tries to unify its enemies while predicting Israel’s disappearance; agovernment-affiliated organization plans a new Gaza “freedom” flotilla with at least 15 ships taking part; and the deputy prime minister calls for a Libya-style bombing of Israel.

Ankara’s ambitions must be checked. Less provocatively and more intelligently than the Iranian regime, it aspires to reshape Muslim countries in its Islamist image. The opening salvos of this effort have gone well, being both effective and largely unnoticed.

Possible methods to block AKP influence include: expressing displeasure with Ankara’s “neo-Ottomanist” policies; publicly questioning whether Turkish actions are compatible with NATO membership; quietly encouraging opposition parties in the country’s June 2011 elections; and, at this moment of AKP hostility and of Kurdish uprisings in eastern Turkey, reconsidering the delicate question of Kurdish civil rights.

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  • WilliamJamesWard

    As Kurds and others disappear in Turkey along with the Turiksh desire
    to be part of the West anything is possible with the Muslim Brotherhood
    working in the background in every Muslim Nation. All of the Muslim Nations
    leaders are literally under fire and Islamists are playing a middle line
    while keeping their intentions quiet. The key to taking leadership is to
    belittle Israel and cause the Israeli's real trouble while Iran, Palestinians,
    Lebaneese, Syrians will take the brunt of Israeli reaction to the sinister
    game being played, I wonder just how far Turkey want's to push their
    brother Islamists into Israels face which gives the Arab Countries
    nervous indigestion. If Iran has Saudi Arabia in fear, Turkey will have
    the Saudi Princes crying to Washington, which may be a good thing,
    OPEC Oil has to come down………………………………….William