Why the West Cares about Turkey's Diplomatic Conflict with Israel

(Israel Hayom) Dore Gold - In a 2004 diplomatic cable revealed by WikiLeaks, an American diplomat in Turkey wrote about his concerns with Ankara's "new, highly activist foreign policy" and the "neo-Ottoman fantasies" of Ahmet Davutoglu, who today is Turkey's foreign minister. At a meeting at the main think tank of Turkey's ruling AKP Party, the American diplomat heard many saying that it is Turkey's role to spread Islam in Europe. He noted "the widespread belief" among the participants that Turkey should "avenge the defeat at the siege of Vienna in 1683" - where the Ottoman armies lost to the Hapsburg Empire. These trends are not just a concern for the U.S., but for other countries who are doubtlessly monitoring trends in Turkey. In late 2009, Davutoglu spoke in Sarajevo, Bosnia, where he stated that "the Balkans, the Caucuses, and the Middle East were all better off when under Ottoman control or influence." For many states that were once part of the Ottoman Empire, especially in Europe, this statement undoubtedly raised eyebrows. Across Eastern Europe, from Hungary to Serbia, there are sites that are remembered as battlefields between Christian armies and the Ottoman Empire. What Erdogan and Davutoglu do with Israel is seen as a warning sign regarding the future direction of Turkish policy. Will Turkey return to being a pragmatic ally of the West that serves as a bridge to the Middle East or will it pursue a new radical course that brings it increasingly into conflict with the countries around it? The writer, a former Israeli ambassador to the UN, is president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

2011-09-09 00:00:00

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