Turkish Hyper-Activity Reverberates throughout the Middle East

(Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs) Yossi Kuperwasser and Lenny Ben-David - In recent months, Turkey has increased its efforts to enhance its position as a regional power following in the path of the Ottoman Empire, adopting daring measures that border on megalomania at home, in the region, and internationally. President Erdogan sees himself as the sultan of a resurgent Ottoman Empire and as the pillar of the Muslim Brotherhood in the region. A video recently broadcast by the Turkish Ministry of Information describes Turkey's ambition to achieve superpower status. It also displays a troubling appetite for Jerusalem and Saudi Arabia's holy sites in Mecca and Medina. Israel is perceived by Erdogan as a powerful rival that threatens Turkish and Islamic interests and promotes an ideology opposite to that of Turkey. This can be seen through Israel joining the pragmatic Sunni camp in the region, led by the Emirates, Turkey's sworn rival, that does not hesitate to confront Turkey in every arena, including Libya, the eastern Mediterranean, Qatar, the Palestinian camp, and Saudi Arabia - the ultimate destination of Turkish hegemonic aspirations. The Turkish provocation against Israel is reflected in the Turkish opposition to Israel's normalization of ties with the Arab world, its attempts to thwart the plan to lay a gas pipeline from Israel to Europe, and in its championing the Palestinians' cause including that of Hamas. At the same time, Erdogan recognizes Israel's military and political power (especially its relations with the U.S., Europe, and Russia) and realizes that without relations with Israel, its ability to intervene in the Palestinian system would diminish. Turkey also recognizes the importance of diplomatic and economic ties with Israel. Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser, former head of the research division of IDF Military Intelligence, is a senior fellow at the Jerusalem Center. Lenny Ben-David, former deputy chief of mission at Israel's Embassy in Washington, is Director of Publications at the Jerusalem Center.

2020-09-14 00:00:00

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