Turkey's dangerous bid
The Turkish government is playing a delicate political game.
Turkey is making a power play by courting the new governments of Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia. Complicating matters is the continued decline in Israeli-Turkish relations.
Turkey is trying to spread its influence, but it's a risky move.
Turkey and Israel used to have a warm relationship, but that has since changed. the 2008-2009 Gaza conflict and a 2010 raid on a Turkish ship that killed nine Turkish citizens, has put Turkey and Israel at odds with one another.
That raid has been particularly upsetting to Turkey and despite a UN conclusion that Israel acted with, "excessive and unreasonable force," Israel has refused to apologize. Tension between the two countries remains palatable as Turkey now begins to court historic enemies.
In addition to the diplomatic tension between the two countries, Turkey has already suspended military trade with Israel, expelled top diplomats, and has continued to pledge support for Palestinian statehood, a question that is shortly expected to be brought before the UN and is very unpopular with Israel. Turkey has gone so far as to vow sending naval support for any aid convoys that may be sent to Palestine in the future.
Analysts are concerned that Turkey may be realigning itself and taking a more pro-Islamist position in world politics. Turkey has refused to participate in sanctions against Iran, and has even maintained strong relationships with Syria and Sudan, both under intense criticism from the West.
Israel, and the world should be worried. The Arab Spring movements, which the west has publicly endorsed, are tainted with militant-Islamic sentiments and many of the new governments threaten to be hostile to the west. At least with Gaddafi and Mubarak, although corrupt and at times evil, the world knew who it was getting. With the revolutions, uncertainty abounds. And Turkey, a NATO member and a key western ally, appears to be aligning itself with the new governments.
The greater concern is that Turkey is stirring up sentiment against Israel, in its bid to become leader of a new bloc of Islamic states. Politically, Israel is an easy target and a unifying catalyst for militant Islam around the world.
Turkey has long been an example of a moderate, modern middle-eastern state. It has done much to separate religion and politics and to follow a western cultural trend. But conservative militant Islam is on the move, all around the world. Islam is rapidly spreading as a religion, and the Arab Spring has communicated to leaders throughout the Islamic world, that they ignore popular sentiment at their peril.
Turkey must, however manage its politics very carefully. The state is not only at a geographical crossroads between the east and west, but it is also at an economic crossroads. Turkey has many key trading partners, both east and west. It has attracted considerable foreign investment because of its relative stability and its lack of conflict.
As Turkey looks to assert itself as a bold new player in middle-eastern politics, the state must act carefully. Reducing relations with Israel might make the country popular on Arab streets, but it could also jeopardize relations with the west. Turkey has power to gain, but it also has a lot to lose from its present course.
© 2011, Catholic Online. Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Turkey, Ottomanism, Islam, Israel
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