Turkey Goes All In Against Israel

Has Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan finally lost his mind entirely? It seems possible after he addressed the Turkish Parliament yesterday. Railing against the war in Gaza, Erdogan proclaimed to his legislators that it’s Israel that poses the true threat of escalation. He claimed that if they succeeded in defeating Hamas, they would not stop with taking Gaza. He said that the Israelis would next attack Turkey “with its delusions about a promised land.” Erdogan has been a frequent critic of Israel and has hosted Hamas leaders in his country during the war, offering the terror group material and financial support. If we needed any further evidence that Turkey is not a stable NATO ally under Erdogan’s leadership, this should seal the deal. (The Defense Post)

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday claimed that Israel would “set its sights” on Turkey if it succeeded in defeating Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Erdogan, a vocal critic of Israel’s war in the Palestinian territory following Hamas’ attack on October 7, has often expressed support for the Palestinian group as defenders of their homeland.

Hamas is classed as a terrorist organization by Israel, the United States, and the European Union, amongst others.

“Do not think that Israel will stop in Gaza,” Erdogan told his party lawmakers in the parliament in the capital Ankara.

This tweet announcing the news drew some understandable snark in response.

In order to take this threat seriously, one would have to believe, as John Hawkins pointed out, that a country that has only fought defensive wars for 75 years would suddenly launch an attack on a NATO state while they are largely being armed by another NATO country. It’s an obviously preposterous claim, but Erdogan is clearly trying to gin up more animosity against Israel. Erdogan is far more closely aligned with Russia at this point than NATO and it’s a mystery to me why they continue to be allowed membership in the alliance.

Erdogan went on to praise Hamas, saying that he would continue to stand by the terror group as they “fight for the independence of its own land and which defends Anatolia.” (Anatolia is the Turkish peninsula that’s also known as Asia Minor.) He also revealed that more than 1,000 Hamas fighters are currently being treated in Turkish hospitals. This is a literal example of providing aid and comfort to the enemy.

This position represents a significant policy shift for Turkey. Back in 1949, less than a year after Israel’s declaration of independence, Turkey recognized them as a sovereign nation and established formal diplomatic relations with them. Turkey was the first majority-Muslim country to do so. Their relations have hit a few rocky points over the years, but we’ve never seen anything as bad as the current standoff under Erdogan’s rule.  On May 2, Erdogan cut diplomatic ties with Israel and announced that he was cutting off access to Turkish ports for Israeli shipping. 

Unfortunately, Turkey’s position may be spreading in the region, particularly in Greece. President Karolos Papoulias has already stated that he supports an end to the fighting and would like to push for the formal recognition of an independent Palestinian state. He hasn’t gone so far as to support military action against Israel, but his tendencies are more in line with Erdogan than with the United States and Israel’s other allies.

If we’re fortunate, Israel will soon finish off the last of Hamas’ battalions in Rafah and bring the serious stage of the fighting to a close. This is turning into a highly divisive situation, not only on American college campuses but among our allies as well. We still have no idea what a post-war Gaza will look like, but there needs to be some level of order restored.

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