BY HARUT SASSOUNIAN
I have written in the past pointing out Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s hypocrisy on proclaiming himself as the ‘defender’ of Palestinians, while maintaining a military, diplomatic and economic alliance with Israel.
Khaled Abu Toameh, an award-winning journalist based in Jerusalem who is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at Gatestone Institute, published a lengthy article on August 25, 2020 on Gatestone Institute’s website, titled: “Arabs and Muslims to Turkey’s Erdogan: ‘Why Don’t You Protest Against Yourself?’”
Erdogan inherited from Ottoman Sultans the skill of walking a diplomatic tightrope. For centuries, the Ottoman Empire perfected the political art of seeming to be on both sides of conflicting powers. The Sultans sided with France and England against Germany and with Germany against France and England. The same policy is being pursued now by Erdogan, appearing to be on the Palestinian side, while maintaining multi-faceted relations with Israel. Similarly, Turkey is a NATO member, while purchasing advanced missiles from Russia which violates NATO policies. Amazingly, Erdogan is simultaneously the good friend of both Trump and Putin!
This contradictory and dishonest Turkish behavior finally was exposed in the Arab and Islamic world on the occasion of Israel and United Arab Emirates (UAE) normalizing their relations. Erdogan threatened UAE on August 14, 2020, to cut off diplomatic relations and recall Turkey’s Ambassador from the UAE, while Turkey itself maintains normal relations with Israel, where it has an Embassy, and Israel has an Embassy in Ankara!
Many Arabs are now reminding Erdogan that “Turkey was the first Muslim-majority country to recognize the State of Israel. They also remind him of his official visit to Israel in 2005 and the decades of military, strategic and diplomatic cooperation between Turkey and Israel,” Abu Toameh wrote.
Here are several statements that Abu Toameh quoted from Arab and Muslim sources exposing Erdogan’s hypocritical position.
Erdogan is “the official sponsor of terrorist groups in the region. He uses these groups to destabilize the Arab countries, including Syria, Iraq, Libya, and Egypt…. It seems that Erdogan is suffering from schizophrenia that surprises and confuses even his supporters,” wrote Egyptian journalist Adel al-Sanhoury, in youm7.com, on August 21, 2020.
Jordanian writer Noura al-Moteari asked: “Does Erdogan have a mental illness and a dual personality, or does he know for sure that his followers from the oppressed Turkish people and the Muslim Brotherhood follow him with blind loyalty and do not see beyond the end of their noses? How does Erdogan threaten to withdraw his ambassador from Abu Dhabi because of the historic peace agreement with Israel, while the Israeli embassy in Turkey is active?”
Saudi political activist Monther al-Sheikh Mubarak wrote: “I am sure Erdogan needs a psychiatrist. It has been reported that Turkey will serve Israel by transporting Israelis to the UAE at a time when Erdogan is objecting to normalization [with Israel]. There is no cure for stupidity.”
Saudi political activist Abdullah al-Bander said in a video he posted on social media that Erdogan is known for his words more than his actions. “What’s funny is that Erdogan was also the first Muslim leader to visit the grave of [Zionism founder Theodor] Herzl in Israel and meet with [then Israeli Prime Minister Ariel] Sharon. Erdogan is trading in the Palestinian cause. Turkey has had relations with Israel for more than 70 years, but it has done nothing good for the Palestinians all these years.”
Saudi writer Rawaf al-Soain also posted a video on social media platforms in which he asked: “Why don’t you [Erdogan] withdraw your ambassador from Tel Aviv and expel the Israeli ambassador in Turkey so that we can call you a hero and supporter of the Palestinian cause? By accusing the United Arab Emirates, Erdogan is being silly and despicable.”
The Saudi newspaper Okaz wrote in an editorial: “Erdogan’s regime does not miss an opportunity to trade in the Palestinian issue and deceive everyone. Despite Erdogan’s hypocrisy, which has become exposed to Arab and Islamic public opinion, his regime continues to play on the feelings of Muslims. The Turkish president appears to be applying double standards by ignoring the presence of his ambassador in Tel Aviv.”
Abu Toameh concluded: “The strong reactions of many Arabs to Erdogan’s threat is a sign that they understand that he is a conniving opportunist playing the Arab and Muslim card in an attempt to revive an Islamic caliphate under his rule. Judging from the broader Arab response to Erdogan’s threat, the Turkish leader, rather than being perceived as any kind of Caliph, is perceived as a demented demagogue and a sponsor of terrorism.”
In addition, Turkish journalist Burak Bekdil provided the historical background of Turkey’s double-faced approach to diplomacy in an article published by the BESA Center on August 27, 2020.
Bekdil wrote: “Turkey remained neutral during the Arab-Israeli war of 1948. At its conclusion, the then young Turkish republic became the first Muslim country to recognize the infant state of Israel on March 28, 1949. In January 1950, Ankara sent a career diplomat, Seyfullah Esin, to Tel Aviv as the first Turkish chargé d’affaires in Israel. In 1951, Turkey joined the Western bloc of countries that protested Cairo’s decision to deny Israeli ships passage through the Suez Canal. The Mossad [Israel’s Intelligence Agency] opened a station on Turkish soil in the early 1950s. In 1954, Turkish PM Adnan Menderes, while on a visit to the US, called on Arab states to recognize Israel.”
Probably worse than Turkish hypocrisy is the gullibility of Western and Arab nations that have been fooled by Turkish deceits to think that Turkey is their friend and ally.