Turkey – a clear and present danger

The claim that the earth shook in wake of “the Arab Spring” is now being shown to be a lie. Numerous events have shown that this “Spring” was not a democratic act of peace-loving, civil society activists, but a campaign guided by the incitement of radical Islamic activists, who are attempting, perhaps justifiably, to change the political map in the Middle East.

Following the 1917 Treaty of Sèvres  and the  Sykes–Picot Agreement, the Western powers divided the states that comprised the crumbling Ottoman Empire created, and political entities, which were completely unsustainable, were created. Fantastic states which comprised numerous minority groups, religious communities, and ethnic tribes who had built-in hostilities against one another, made dialogue or reconciliation impossible. Eighteen different denominations in Lebanon, seven distinct ethnic groups in Syria, and an unequal distribution of Shiites and Sunnis in Bahrain and Iraq are only a few reasons for the impossibility for such states to be stable and sustainable. Today, we see no end to Sunni-Shiite terrorism in Iraq, Yemen is divided by bitter tribal conflicts, while the various tribes in Libya fight over control of an area that was once known as Libya, but can no longer be considered an actual state.

Turkey, which still feels injured by the West, when it lost the mass territory of the Ottoman empire, from North Africa through Italy, to Egypt, the Arabian Peninsula to the Western powers of France and Britain, dreams of reclaiming her position of leadership in the region, and has thus taken a leading role in the Islamic awakening.

To this end, Turkey has advanced a number of confidence-building measures among Islamic nations: First, Turkey had to prove that today’s Turkey is no longer a secular state. In the past, Turkey’s attempt to enter the European community was based on the repudiation of its Islamic tradition in favor of a Western face that found much common ground with European culture. Turkey rid itself of traditional Islamic garb, changed its alphabet to Latin letters, and changed the traditional day for rest to Sunday from Friday, the accepted day of rest in Islamic countries.

However, the new Turkey has taken a different approach. As a state attempting to assume leadership of the Islamic world, Turkey could not be seen as a state that prevents its citizens from appearing in public in traditional Muslim garb. Indeed, Turkish society has increasingly adopted Islamic traditions, including traditional garb. Despite the use of the Latin alphabet in the Turkish language, Arabic is  increasingly used in the media outlets of modern Turkey. Turkey has remained ambiguous changing its day of rest back to Friday, although this issue will undoubtedly float to the surface in the near future.

In attempting to bring to fruition its goal to lead the Muslim world, Turkey realized it needed to change its approach towards Israel. Leadership of the Muslim world requires an active struggle against Israel, as this stuggle has always been the common denominator among all Muslim countries, even those that have no lost love for one another, enabling them to cooperate in their struggle against Israel. Therefore, Turkey altered its foreign policy to emphasize hostility against Israel, in order to take its place as the leading force fighting against the Zionist entity. Thus, for the last number of years, Turkey has made every effort to radicalize its positions against Israel, and to be viewed in the street as the leader of the Islamic struggle against Israel.

In its attempts to impact countries across the Middle East, Turkey has shown unmatched hypocrisy, presenting itself as a friend of countries considered to be within the consensus of the Arab League, only to turn its back on these countries when this friendship no longer served Turkey’s interests. During his early years as Prime Minister, Erdogan became personal friends with Moammar Qadhafi. Indeed, some of Turkey’s economic successes can be attributed to the billions of dollars in development work commissioned by the Libyan leader. Lybia invested two billion Euros in Turkey’s, while Turkey only invested 400,000 Euro in Lybia – a highly lopsided ratio. However, when the uprising against Qaddafi began, with the support of the Muslim Brotherhood,  Turkey was the first to part ways with  Qaddafi and transfer funds to the rebels in Libya.

The President of Syria, Bashar Al-Assad was considered an ally of Turkey, as Assad succeeded through friendship with Turkey, to lead his country into the Islamic fold. Erdogan was the leader who “mediated” between Syria and Israel, by  attempting to impose a settlement on Israel, which, at that time, continuously praised Syria and advanced its cause, at at the expense of Israel. During periods of uncompromising friendship between Turkey and Syria, not a word of criticism was sounded by Erdogan against the Syrian regime, although the Assad regime was far from democratic in nature and trampled on Sunni rights in Syria. However, only when the Sunni uprising began, did Erdogan suddenly become a great supporter of the revolution, even if as a silent, invisible partner, who occasionally sent planes over Syria which were shot down by the Syrian army.

The fact that the same Syrian army which downed Turkish airplanes was helpless against an Israeli air strike, has resulted in Turkey condemning and cursing Israel, and even fantastically accused Israel of cooperating with the Assad regime.

The world must know the true face of Turkey. Turkey is not a friendly member of a pro-Western alliance, which enjoys a pluralistic, democratic society. The new Turkey is a dark, fanatical and fundamentalist state, attempting to take over leadership of the Islamic world, and is demanding that friends of past, such as Israel, pay its entrance fee.

Turkey’s direction is not towards peace, nor dialogue, not attempts to develop cooperation and common interests. Today’s Turkey is a clear and present danger.

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