Ah, the Guardian’s editors “found” Turkey – the Turkey they’ve longed for, the Turkey they’ll love, the Turkey of Islamists!!! The Guardian’s editors are a bit too bashful to say so openly, but one reason – perhaps the main reason??? – for falling in love with Islamist Turkey is that, just like Islamists everywhere, Turkey’s ruling Islamists also know that sagging popularity at home can always be transformed into frenzied enthusiasm by playing the anti-Israel card.
Over at Tablet Magazine, Lee Smith spells it out in one of his regular (and regularly excellent) columns [emphasis added]:
“Ankara’s transformation has been in the making since the election that brought Erdogan and the AKP to power in 2003. There was much hand-wringing during the George W. Bush years about who ‘lost’ Turkey, but the fact is that Erdogan is a wily politician who lacks a majority in Turkey and is always competing for an electoral edge. And no one has ever lost support in the modern Middle East by playing the anti-Israel card. Erdogan’s January 2009 performance at Davos, where he accused Israeli President Shimon Peres of ‘knowing very well how to kill’ in the wake of Israel’s Gaza offensive, won him acclaim throughout the region and helped his party build support among the masses.”
Mhm, and when it comes to “support among the masses”, couldn’t it also be said that “no one has ever lost talkbacks in the modern media world by playing the anti-Israel card”? It sure has worked well for CiF in the past two weeks or so: even though articles that have anything to do with Israel are open for comment only for a few hours, the comments they’ve ratcheted up with the Polakow-Suransky “revelations” and the Gaza flotilla flood of hate must run into the many thousands.
Well, if the anti-Israel card works for the Islamists, why shouldn’t it work elsewhere – as long as there is enough common ground when it comes to the Jewish state?
But back to the editorial song of praise for Turkey. After all, Israel’s supporters would do well to learn to appreciate what it takes for a country to earn a warm embrace from the Guardian’s opinion makers – so, here we go:
“Turkey’s response to the Gaza blockade is indicative of the more autonomous and distinctive nation that elected Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s moderate Islamist AKP government in 2003 and for which he continues to speak. The AKP sees Turkey as neither western nor eastern but as central to its own region, a policy sometimes dubbed neo-Ottoman, hence the engagement with states such as Iran and Syria and with movements including Hamas.”
So it’s good if a country presents itself as a “more autonomous and distinctive nation”, for example by electing a party with a religiously inspired platform. Hmh, you think that would bring Israel – or, for that matter, the US – into the Guardian’s good graces?
Then it seems that “neo-Ottoman” is also something positive. That’s a hard one, isn’t it – I mean, would any other neo-imperialism get a nod of approval from the Guardian editors? How could Israel possibly hope to emulate Turkey’s apparently admirable “neo-Ottoman” ambitions??? But hold on, there is a hint when the editors mention Turkey’s “engagement with states such as Iran and Syria and with movements including Hamas.” Ah, so that’s it: you have to shmooze with repressive regimes and terrorist groups – sort of do what Polakow-Suransky accused Israel of doing with Apartheid South Africa…
But let’s not get bogged down here, because there is still the important concluding paragraph to consider:
“The truth is that, internally and externally, Turkey is in flux. Democracy and human rights are not fully consolidated, though great strides have been made. Internationally, Turkey has its own priorities, which it pursues with some success. This is both right and realistic. Turkey is certainly changing. It has many cards in its hand. But the rest of the world should work with those changes and not fear them.”
Good to know, isn’t it: no reason to make a fuss when democracy and human rights remain “not fully consolidated” in a state that, in its modern form, came into being some 90 years ago. And, having one’s own priorities is thankfully also OK.
Admittedly, not everyone seems to agree with the Guardian editors’ rosy view – take for example this recent New York Times report, which goes straight to the point:
“In the presence of Pope Benedict XVI, Cypriot religious and political leaders unleashed a furious broadside on Friday against Turkey, whose troops have occupied northern Cyprus since 1974.”
Well, those people should read The Guardian, then they would know how wonderful Turkey really is, and that there is no reason at all to “fear” Turkey, “neo-Ottoman” or not.
Indeed, it is likely that there will be many more opportunities to praise Turkey: the next election is still a year away, and the prospects for the ruling Islamists don’t seem all that bright. In other words, some additional helpings of anti-Israel “activism” could do wonders for them…
If, or rather, when these occasions to praise Turkey’s Islamists arise, every commenter who doesn’t want his/her comments to be “removed by a moderator” should avoid quoting Turkish analysts who tend to be critical of the Islamists, like the widely published writer Soner Cagaptay. Mind you, one of his recent pieces is entitled “Turkey’s Republic of Fear” – but please remember, the Guardian editors have told us that Turkey’s Islamists are doing a great job and “the rest of the world should work with those changes and not fear them.”