The Demand for Apology – A Strategic Move

The international struggle that has developed between Turkey and Israel was not a trite power struggle. This was a calculated strategic Turkish maneuver, with consequences on global politics on many levels.

It is indeed surprising how the competitive nature of states impacts the world order. Competition is at the heart of human affairs. Even football games between the two teams fascinate entire populations around the world. Such competitive games involve an amount of money measured in billions, and can lead to nationalist disputes and violence, exemplified by the recent developments in Egypt, where riots that threatened the regime, originating during riots on a football field in Suez, on the outskirts of Egypt. Competition is indeed inherent in the souls of nations and perhaps needed to release social pressures that exist in all societies.

However, despite substantial interest in national and international sports games, the real battle is for setting the global agenda and for taking the leading role in global affairs. Every few decades, a confrontation for control takes hold, bringing about regional and even global conflict, often resulting in hundreds of thousands if not millions of victims.

Today, the world is engaged in a race for hegemony, for the role of dictating the global agenda. The United States is no longer the sole global superpower, as old-new forces attempt to impact the re-distribution of global resources. One of the powers struggling for its place is the Islamic nation. It is of great significance that Ismail Haniyeh visited Iran in March 2012, casting Zionism as a cancer at the heart of the Islamic nation. The term “Islamic Nation” is becoming an accepted term, as several leaders state that it numbers 1 billion and 600 million Islamic believers, in order to surpass the Chinese nation from a demographic standpoint.

Recently, numerous leaders have vied over leadership of the Islamic nation. Potential leaders such as Gaddafi were eliminated, while Assad has been rejected by his neighbors, Qatar and Turkey. The Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei has never enjoyed the status of Khomeini, and was never acceptable to the Sunni world nor to the Arab world. The new leader of Egypt Mohamed Morsi has never been given proper stature as leader of a great Arab country, while the Saudi leadership is old and lacking in energy. This leaves two contenders for the position of leadership in the Islamic world: Al-Thani of Qatar and Erdogan of Turkey.

Al-Thani has succeeded in consolidating support massive numbers of Muslims through the Al-Jazeera satellite network, and is now found in homes across the world. Al-Thani, through Al-Jazeera intervenes in numerous conflicts around the region, despite the fact that Qatar is a tiny country in the Persian Gulf. Even the very population of Qatar is unclear, given different statuses of citizens, residents, and workers, thus, intentionally preventing confirmed figures about the population of, what is in essence, a small country.

Al-Thani, like the Wizard of Oz, has surrounded himself with a range of magical backdrops to hide the real size. He has even attempted to bring the World Cup to his small country. Al-Thani gets involved in regional conflicts, as he has visited, shows unequivocal support for Hamas, offering them substantial aid.

The second candidate for Islamic leadership is Erdogan, who views himself as the natural leader of the Islamic nation, due to his broad, pseudo-European approach, a modern successor to a legendary Ottoman power of the past, which dominated the world for six hundred years.

Erdogan was initially a friend of Assad, hoping that proximity to Assad would grant him entry into the Arab world. Erdogan also believed that Gadhafi would grant him entry into North Africa, but in the end, in both of these cases, Erdogan betrayed both friends, as the burden of friendship was becoming too great, without providing a payoff.

To maintain his position of leadership in the Arab world, Erdogan increased his hateful statements against Israel, and took on the Palestinian cause, specifically, the Hamas version of this cause, attempt to impact the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to solidify his role as Islamic leader.

The demand of an apology from Israel was no whim to restore honor. He has refused to accept a show of regret, and will not accept anything less than a full apology. As proxy defender of the Palestinians, he has shown that only he, leaders of the Islamic nation, can bring Israel to its knees and beg his pardon, in essence bringing Israel to recognize that the moves led by Turkey were somehow just, despite the findings of UN commissions that found otherwise. Thus, Erdogan has positioned himself as leaders of the Islamic world.

Turkey’s battle against Israel is only an interim step, a tool for regional and global domination. The world is not interested in understanding Erdogan’s long-term goals, but seeks only quick solutions. It is interested in quiet, even if that quiet is short-lived. However, Israel does not have the luxury of believing in quick-fixes, but must learn the long-term goals of leaders who seek to conquer the global chess board.

About the Author
Dr David Altman is senior vice-president at the Netanya Academic College and vice-chair of the college's Strategic Dialogue Center