Who Is Really Trying to ‘Wage a Fight Between the Cross and Crescent Again’?

This is…disturbing. 

On so many levels. Turkey, a NATO country, is accepting Hamas terrorists and treating them in its hospitals. 

Aside from the obvious fact that a NATO member country is backing Hamas and sheltering terrorists, the question of how these fighters escaped from Gaza and wound up in Turkey in the first place. 

WTF is going on?

First, the context. Erdogan was meeting with longtime rival Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis. The two countries are trying to thaw relations, which haven’t been good since the steppe tribes captured the Anatolian Peninsula and colonized the region, kicking out the Greek inhabitants. As you may recall, the peninsula was the heart of the Eastern Roman Empire. Istanbul used to be Constantinople, after all. 

I guess the current Turks are settler colonialists, and Erdogan is itching to give back the entire peninsula to the Greeks, right? Is there a Greek right of return?

Down with the Ottomans! Let’s get those university students excited about this!

Erdogan got very animated defending Hamas:

Monday’s summit between Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, heralded as a milestone in improving ties between the historically hostile nations, was marked instead by Erdogan’s spirited defense of Hamas during a live press conference that followed their meeting in Ankara and his disclosure that over 1,000 Hamas members were being treated in Turkey.

“There is a very important issue on which we disagree,” Erdogan told the audience. “I do not see Hamas as a terror organization.”

Noting that Palestinian lands have been occupied since 1947, Erdogan said that “Hamas is a resistance group” that was “waging a struggle to protect” Palestinian lands. “If one calls Hamas that has lost 40,000 of its people a terrorist organization, this would be a heartless approach,” Erdogan added. He then dropped the bombshell: “As of this moment, I am following Hamas step by step, and there are more than 1,000 Hamas members who are all being treated in our hospitals. This is how we are doing things. … I cannot agree with your approach. This would be unfair,” Erdogan concluded. He did not explain how the Hamas militants had made their way to Turkey.

Media reports later cited Turkish officials claiming Erdogan misspoke regarding militants being treated in the country, but Ankara has yet to issue any official clarification. 

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So is Erdogan right, or those unnamed Turkish officials? I know what I think, but you can make up your own mind. I think it was a Kinsley gaffe, accidentally telling the truth. 

Erdogan is a huge thorn in NATO’s side. The country has been moving in the Islamist direction but is also a member of the alliance. It is about as strategically placed as a country can possibly be, controlling the Bosphorus straight. While it has a long history of hostility toward Russia, it has been inching its way toward being a de facto Russian ally. 

But an implicit alliance with Hamas–actually giving aid and comfort to a terrorist entity, is more than a complication. Most countries would be sanctioned for what Erdogan is doing openly. 

Then there is the other major issue: how did Hamas terrorists make their way to Turkey amid a war? 

Mitsotakis handled Erdogan’s outburst skillfully, saying “let us agree to disagree.” But the exchange will have put something of a damper ahead of a state dinner that Erdogan is hosting in his Greek guest’s honor. It will not have helped that Mitsotakis rebuked Erdogan in his remarks for last week’s formal conversion of the Chora, an iconic Greek Orthodox Church, into a full-service mosque, calling it “unfortunate.” Erdogan retorted that “Turkey has set an example for all as a country that preserves its cultural heritage … the Chora Mosque is open to everybody with its new identity.”

A spokesperson for the Israeli Foreign Ministry declined to comment on Erdogan’s revelations about the Hamas members being treated in Turkey. Hay Eytan Yanarocak, a Turkey expert at Tel Aviv University, said, “There’s a big difference between treating wounded civilians and treating Hamas militants.”  

“This is a new low,” Yanarocak said, and canceled out the “positive news” that junior Israeli diplomats were returning to Ankara following months after being withdrawn in October amid security concerns.

I haven’t had enough grasp on Turkey’s utility to NATO in the current context to have an opinion about how this should be handled. In an ideal world we could rebuke Turkey and even sanction them, but we don’t live in an ideal world. We often have to deal with and even ally with less-than-savory characters, and perhaps Turkey is one of those. Carter certainly was mistaken about prioritizing human rights in Iran over realpolitik. We shouldn’t make the same mistake twice. 

No doubt the answer will become clear. Whatever Biden does will be the wrong move. 

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