Erdoğan revisits anti-Western rhetoric on eve of elections

Erdoğan revisits anti-Western rhetoric on eve of elections

With less than a month to go to the presidential polls, one has every right to evaluate the statements, policies and positions of any contender – on either internal or external issues – through the prism of the upcoming elections. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s address to his parliamentary group yesterday overwhelmingly focused on Israel’s military operations toward Gaza, and cannot be exempted from this.

Erdoğan had three main messages: First, he reiterated his strong criticism of the Israeli state’s oppression of Palestinians, but this time he cited 1948, the establishment of the Israeli state, as the beginning of this cruelty. Second, he repeated what he said over the weekend that Turkish-Israeli relations will not be normalized as long as Israel continues to kill innocent Palestinian children. Third, he accused, once again, the Western world, international community and some Muslim countries of remaining silent to what he calls “the state terror committed by Israel.”

As for the first and second messages, there is not much to add. But Erdoğan’s criticisms toward the international community do not have much ground. Here is an excerpt from a news story by an online news portal,

“Protests and demonstrations in support of Gaza took place in at least 38 countries, among them: South Africa, Turkey, Indonesia, Afghanistan, Argentina, Egypt, Yemen, Nicaragua, Honduras, Brazil, Venezuela, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, South Korea, Sweden, Syria, Pakistan, India, Ireland, Spain, Serbia, Mexico, Italy, Finland, the Netherlands, Japan — and Israel, where there were anti-war and anti-occupation protests in Tel Aviv on July 3, as well as over the weekend.”

And furthermore, here are cities where tens of thousands of people gathered over the weekend in coordinated protests against Israel: Paris, Metz, Lille (France); Athens (Greece); Stockholm (Sweden); Detroit, Houston, Seattle, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington D.C., Columbus (USA); Glasgow (Scotland); Beirut (Lebanon); Edinburgh (Scotland); Milan, Rome (Italy); Oslo (Norway); Buenos Aires (Argentina); Bogota (Colombia); Frankfurt (Germany); Sydney (Australia); Ottawa, Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal (Canada); Copenhagen (Denmark); Dublin (Ireland); Vienna (Austria)….

The international community is loudly expressing its opposition against Israeli attacks and may be even louder than the Turkish public opinion. And as from the perspective of the international politics, I do not see much difference between Turkey and other countries in being inefficient in stopping violence in the region. At least, countries like Egypt, the United States, Germany and other prominent countries are intensifying their efforts for a cease-fire, to the contrary of Erdoğan, who apparently has started to use the regional tension for his pre-election campaign, as he did in the past as well.

Otherwise he would not slam Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu, the opposition’s joint presidential candidate and former secretary-general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) between 2005 and 2014.  The fact that he is the sole Turkish citizen who was honored with the Order of Merit by Palestine is enough evidence to disprove Erdoğan’s criticisms against him.   

With losing all its leverage and influence in regional and international politics, the only thing Erdoğan has left in his hand is his anti-Western, anti-Israeli language that we will hear more of as election day looms.