Earlier this week, I pondered the lack of American ambassadors to 32 countries, including some critical regional or economic allies.

Now, we are down a Turkish ambassador, albeit temporarily, as that nation has pulled its envoy in response to the opening of the American embassy to Israel in Jerusalem.

The Turkish Embassy in Washington says the Turkish ambassador to the United States is being called home over the Trump administration moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.
 Turkey is also recalling its ambassador to Israel for consultations. Turkey’s Foreign Affairs Ministry says it strongly condemns the decision to move the embassy and deems the move “legally null and void.”

Turkey says the move “disregards the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people” and “will not serve peace, security and stability in the region.”

The recall and “consultations” come on the heels of a series of massive protests in Istanbul over the embassy move.

Thousands of people rallied in Turkey and Jordan on Friday to protest against the decision to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and to mark the 70th anniversary of what Palestinians call their “nakba,” or catastrophe of Israel’s founding.

…In Istanbul, several thousand people marched with Palestinian and Turkish flags. Many carried signs reading “Palestinian belongs to the Palestinians” and “Al-Quds belongs to Muslims.”

However, I suspect Turkey’s move is related to the fact that its current head, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, wants to build Ottoman Empire v 2.0. To start with, Turkey has just called for an emergency meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

Ankara wants the meeting of the 57-member-state body to be held on Friday, spokesman Bekir Bozdag said.

…Turkey has been one of the most vocal critics of the U.S. move and the violence in Gaza, with the government declaring three days of mourning for those killed.

President Tayyip Erdogan described the actions of the Israeli forces as a “genocide” and Israel as a “terrorist state”.

“No matter from what side, whether from the United States or Israel, I curse this humanitarian plight, this genocide,” he said.

Turkey’s regional antics have now inspired another multi-national meeting. EU leaders will meet their counterparts from six western Balkan countries — Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia — in the Bulgarian capital of Sofia. In part, it will be to discuss how to deal with the Turkish interest in the Western Balkans.

European leaders have expressed concern over Turkey’s expanding influence in the western Balkans, particularly since the country has taken a more authoritarian turn. Speaking to the European Parliament last month, French President Emmanuel Macron put Ankara and Moscow in the same bracket, saying he did not want the Balkans to “turn towards Turkey or Russia.”

Turkey’s economic presence is generally not what worries Ankara’s European allies. They fear that Turkey may gain political influence at the expense of Brussels.

That remark ruffled feathers in Ankara, even prompting a rebuke from President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan himself.

Turkey considers the Balkans part of its natural sphere of influence as the former imperial power, with the Ottoman Empire famously stopping only at the gates of Vienna at its peak.

Looking at the data, I think there is much more to the Turkish reaction to the embassy move that meets the eye.

I might suggest that President Donald Trump recall our ambassador to Turkey for a “consultation” about these issues, but Turkey is one of the 32 nations that doesn’t have one appointed.


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