Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who heads an Islamist party, recently ripped into Shimon Peres, President of Israel at the Davos forum, telling Peres “when it comes to killing, you know well how to kill.” Peres gave it right back to Erdogan, accusing Erdogan of ignoring the long history of Arab violence against Israel, causing Erdogan to storm off the stage. The video is here (Peres’ response starts at 39:25). Erdogan was given a hero’s welcome when he returned to Turkey. (h/t Little Green Footballs and IsraellyCool)
Perhaps it’s time to talk a little Turkey. First, let’s talk Kurds. The Turks have killed an estimated 20,000 Kurds, attempted to destroy Kurdish language and culture, launched invasions of Kurdish northern Iraq, and denied to the millions of Kurds within and without Turkey’s borders the right to an independent state. In fact, the Kurds outnumber the Palestinians several times over, yet because the Kurds have not spent the last 50 years demanding the destruction of Israel, the cause of Kurdish independence has not caught the fancy of the Western media and political elites. Now that Prime Minister Erdogan has expressed such profound sympathies for suppressed national movements, perhaps it is time that Erdogan put his actions where his mouth is, and free the Kurds.
Next, let’s talk Armenians. Since Erdogan wants to right historical wrongs, why doesn’t Erdogan apologize for the genocide the Ottoman Empire committed against the Armenians. Since the first step in recovery is acknowledgement of a problem, at least stop the denials that it happened, even if you won’t apologize.
Many people in Turkey and elsewhere feared what would happen if an Islamist party took over the helm of a secular state. You are beginning to see the results as Erdogan whips up popular support at home by joining the anti-Israel cause.
My prediction: Turkey is the next Iran, unless Obama stops blaming the U.S. for Islamist aggression and gives support to Turkey’s secular institutions, including the Turkish army. Jimmy Carter tried the blame America first tactic; it didn’t win us any friends and led to 30 years of tyranny and human rights abuses in Iran. Don’t repeat the same mistake in Turkey.
UPDATE 2-2-2009 – I am not alone in my concern with the Islamist drift of Turkey under Erdogan:
After six years of AKP rule, the people of Turkey are less free and less equal, as various news and other reports on media freedom and gender equality show. In April 2007, for instance, the AKP passed an Internet law that has led to a ban on YouTube, making Turkey the only European country to shut down access to the popular site. On the U.N. Development Program’s gender-empowerment index, Turkey has slipped to 90th from 63rd in 2002, the year the AKP came to power, putting it behind even Saudi Arabia. It is difficult to take seriously the AKP’s claim to be a liberal party when Saudi women are considered more politically, economically and socially empowered than Turkish women….
But Erdogan’s recent anti-Israeli statements — he even suggested that God would punish Israel — have made normal relations a thing of the past. On Jan. 4, 200,000 Turks turned out in freezing rain in Istanbul to wish death to Israel; on Jan. 7, an Israeli girls’ volleyball team was attacked by a Turkish audience chanting, “Muslim policemen, bring us the Jews, so we can slaughter them.”
Contrary to what one of the Comments to this post suggests, the problem is not that people outside Turkey are pushing Turkey away; the problem is that people outside and inside Turkey are making excuses and apologizing for Erdogan.
UPDATE 2-8-2009 – Good article at American Thinker, Turkey’s Prime Minister Leads His Country Down a Destructive Path