Reeling from a series of embarrassing public disclosures involving embezzlement, bribery, undue influence and strong-arm tactics, Turkey’s neo-Ottoman, Islamist Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, threatened to ban the popular social media sites of Facebook and YouTube, accusing them of encouraging “every kind of immorality and espionage for their own ends.” Erdoğan has recently resorted to a series of desperate measures, including sacking hundreds of police officers, prosecutors and judges, in a frantic effort to keep a growing corruption scandal centered on him and his cronies from spiraling out of control.
Erdoğan’s AKP government, once touted by President Obama as a shining example of Islam’s compatibility with democracy, has turned out to be as, if not more xenophobic than the autocracies currently governing the Arab and Islamic worlds. As for Erdoğan, he has proven himself to be nothing more than a petty, paranoid thug, full of hubris and delusions of grandeur.
Under Erdoğan, Turkey has become the world’s leading incarcerator of journalists followed by those democracy stalwarts of Iran and China. He has successfully usurped control from the once independent Turkish judiciary and has imposed creeping sharia on secular Turks. But it is Erdoğan’s rhetoric concerning Jews and Israel where his penchant for the bizarre truly comes to fore.
It began in December 2009 when Erdoğan made a spectacle of himself at the World Economic Forum in Davos after moderator David Ignatius noted that Erdoğan had gone over his allotted time to speak. Erdoğan then turned to Israel’s president Shimon Peres and bellowed, “When it comes to killing, you know well how to kill.” Then he stormed off the stage like a spoiled child. His theatrics played well in the Arab world but left most westerners scratching their heads.
In September 2011 Erdoğan outrageously claimed that Israel had killed “hundreds of thousands” of Palestinians in Gaza and in classic anti-Semitic fashion, boorishly stated that Israel used the Holocaust as a tool to gain world sympathy.
In February 2013 Erdoğan compared Zionism to fascism and further declared Zionism to be a “crime against humanity.”
In June 2013 while facing mounting protests against his autocratic rule and brute thuggery, Erdoğan suggested that the “interest rate lobby,” (a convenient euphemistic catch-all phrase for the all-powerful Jewish banking cabal) was behind the unrest. If there were any lingering doubts about Erdoğan’s gist, his deputy prime minister, Besir Atalay, taking cue from his boss, put them to rest when he blamed the “Jewish diaspora” for the strife. It is shocking that the leader of the second largest army in NATO can – not unlike Germany under Hitler – lay blame for his own faults on the Jews and actually get away with it without so much as even a mild reprimand. The EU’s Catherine Ashton must have been too busy condemning Israel to pay any mind to Erdoğan’s anti-Semitic rant.
If anyone still had any doubts about Erdoğan’s sanity, he put them to rest with his zaniest conspiracy theory yet, that French-Jewish intellectual Bernard-Henri Levy and Israel orchestrated the military coup that deposed Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood leader, Mohammed Morsi. That outrageous claim proved too much to bear even for the State Department which termed Erdogan’s histrionics as “offensive, unsubstantiated, and wrong.”
Turkey maintains NATO’s second largest army, borders three very problematic Mideast nations (Iran, Iraq and Syria), is in close proximity to Crimea and secures a substantial portion of NATO’s southern flank. But Turkey under Erdoğan has cozied up to Iran’s mullahs, has opted to purchase Chinese arms that are incompatible with NATO’s defense systems and has established itself as the premiere betrayer of intelligence agents.
Considering Turkey’s strategic importance, an unbalanced, erratic and unpredictable Erdoğan should be a source of concern for the free world. Should Erdoğan’s AKP maintain or expand its parliamentary hold on power in the next general elections, NATO should give serious consideration to reassessing Turkey’s role in the alliance.