Erdoğan has isolated Turkey
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is once again expressing righteous fury at Israel over Gaza and at the United Nations for its inability to do anything. He is also angry at Muslim countries for simple watching as Israel bombs rain down on Gaza during the holy month of Ramadan.
Speaking at the Foreign Ministry’s iftar dinner on Tuesday, he also admitted that he is not a much liked figure internationally.
“Who in the world ever liked a person that speaks the truth? But we will continue to speak the truth,” he said. It is debatable if he is disliked because he speaks the truth or because of his harsh demeanor, authoritarian tendencies and divisive ways, of course.
There is nothing new in his fury against Israel and his railings against the U.N. which he accuses of being an accessory to Israeli crimes. All of this rings hollow with no capacity to alter anything. Erdoğan has not been able to set foot in the Middle East for some time now.
Despite his ambitions to make Turkey a regional leader, he is not a welcome in the region anymore where he is seen as a meddling, provocative figure. It is not just in the West that he is looked on with disfavor. It is also in the Arab world where the only friends he has are Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, both of which are considered as enemies by the Middle East’s established order.
Put simply Turkey is an increasingly isolated country in terms of its capacity to use its influence internationally. It has not even been able to secure the release of its citizens, including a consul general, taken hostage by the Islamic State (IS) in Mosul over a month ago.
Given this state of affairs there is nothing that Erdoğan can do for the people of Gaza today other than give false hope. But Turkey is not in a position to mediate anything, let alone an urgent cease-fire, to prevent Palestinians being killed by Israeli bombs.
Egypt’s military regime that Erdoğan reviles at every opportunity has more influence, as its current efforts to broker a cease-fire show. Ankara is also unable – or perhaps unwilling – to force Hamas to stop lobbing rockets into Israel whose only effect is to incite deadly counter strikes.
Erdoğan’s refusal to normalize ties with Israel under such conditions also has no capacity to pressurize the Israeli government. At any rate, developments in the region, given what is happening in Iraq and Syria, show that the ultimate determinant in Turkish-Israeli relations will most likely be events in the long run, rather than Erdoğan.
One assumes that the better informed of Erdoğan’s foreign policy advisers know all this. But they also know that Erdoğan’s righteous fury against Israel, and his railings against the U.N. and the international community score valuable political points for him at home when he is campaigning for the presidency.
Turks, and especially those in the heartland of Anatolia, are generally inward-looking with a self-centered understanding of the world. They are also devout Muslims and therefore happy about Erdoğan’s righteous fury against Israel and the international community.
They believe that Erdoğan has the ability to improve the plight of their oppressed co-religionists whether they are in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, or as far afield as Myanmar, even if this is not the case as developments have proven time and time again.
The ambassadors at the ministry’s iftar dinner on Tuesday are no doubt also aware of all this. It is more than likely therefore that Erdoğan’s angry remarks went in one ear and came out the other.
Because of his hollow rhetoric, Turkey is increasingly isolated internationally. Even Erdoğan admits now that he is not much liked abroad. The prospects for Turkey under an Erdoğan presidency do not look any better.