Stephen Steinlight emails: An obstreperous Turkey aching for lost Ottoman glory led by the power-mad, dyspeptic and obnoxious big mouth Erdogan and his Islamist party fantasize about regional hegemony and see Israel as “isolated.” But who is really isolated? Take another look. If he goes on this way, he may have the Russians to content with. This is a delicious read.
To put it in a nutshell, Turkey is not only isolated, it is facing serious troubles. Its alliance with Iran and with Syria is in ruin.
The many commentators who have lamented in the past few days about the isolation of Israel in the Middle East have apparently forgotten that this is nothing new. Arab armies tried to destroy the newborn state in 1948; successive attempts having failed as well, Arab states dealt with the existence of the Jewish state as with something which had to be endured, not accepted. Yes, peace was achieved between Israel and Egypt, then Jordan, but this was a peace between governments, not peoples. Incitement against the Jewish state never stopped, finding fertile soil in the minds of youngsters taught from the cradle that Jews are the enemies of Islam and will be destroyed on Judgment Day.
What was left were agreements fueled by transient political interests.
Turkey had been the first Muslim country to recognize Israel – in 1949. Ataturk had been dead a mere decade and the country was firmly launched on the path of secular modernity. Relations between the two countries have had their ups and downs – in 1980 Ankara downgraded diplomatic relations with only a Second Secretary left in charge. But trade exchanges amounted to 4.5 billion dollars yearly, half a million Israelis vacationed in Turkey each year and Israel supplied Turkey with sophisticated weapons and technology.
In other times, the flotilla episode – which would probably not have occurred in the first place – would have been settled easily. However, today’s ruler, motivated by religious fervor and the dream of restoring the country’s former empire, set himself on another path, with the active support of Davutulu, the minister for Foreign Affairs, author of a book in which he states that Turkey is on its way to reclaiming its authentic role and its hegemony in the Middle East.