Is Turkey Going Rogue?

(National Review) Daniel Pipes - When four out of five of the Turkish chiefs of staff abruptly resigned on July 29, 2011, they signaled the effective end of the republic founded in 1923 by Kemal Ataturk. A second republic headed by Prime Minister Erdogan and his Islamist colleagues of the AK Party began that day. The military safely under their control, AKP ideologues now can pursue their ambitions to create an Islamic order. After Ankara backed a protest ship to Gaza in May 2010, the Mavi Marmara, whose aggression led Israeli forces to kill eight Turkish citizens plus an ethnic Turk, it has relentlessly exploited this incident to stoke domestic fury against the Jewish state. Erdogan has called the deaths a casus belli, speaks of a war with Israel "if necessary," and plans to send another ship to Gaza, this time with a Turkish military escort. Companies operating out of Israel discovered potentially immense gas and oil reserves in fields located between Israel, Lebanon, and Cyprus. When the government of Cyprus announced its plans to drill, Erdogan responded with threats to send Turkish "frigates, gunboats and...air force." This dispute, just in its infancy, contains the potential elements of a huge crisis. Already, Moscow has sent submarines in solidarity with Cyprus. Ankara threatens to freeze relations with the EU in July 2012, when Cyprus assumes the rotating presidency. Turkish forces have seized a Syrian arms ship. Turkish threats to invade northern Iraq have worsened relations with Baghdad. The Turkish and Iranian regimes may share an Islamist outlook and an anti-Kurd agenda, with prospering trade relations, but their historic rivalry, contrary governing styles, and competing ambitions have soured relations. That's why, along with Iranian nuclear weapons, I see a rogue Turkey as the region's greatest threat. The writer is president of the Middle East Forum and Taube distinguished visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University.

2011-09-28 00:00:00

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