The US must confront Turkey’s increasing extremism under Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s regime. As the US election nears, it is essential that whoever wins the White House on November 3 will not appease the continual threats from Ankara, and instead, condemn its hosting of Hamas terrorists, its continued attempt to destabilize the Middle East, and its repeated threats against European allies.
On Sunday, Turkey’s regime launched another tirade against Europe, claiming that Muslims in Europe were being treated like Jews prior to the Second World War. Turkey’s president did not use the term “Holocaust” because Ankara has used the example of Jewish suffering throughout history in trying to portray Israel as a “Nazi” country while depicting Muslims as Jewish victims.
This ideology pushed by Ankara is rooted in the Muslim Brotherhood’s ingrained antisemitism that can be found in the Hamas covenant, which blends antisemitic conspiracies with modern-day terrorism. Invoking the Holocaust to condemn Israel and Europe, rather than commemorating Jewish victims, is part of the propaganda that Ankara pushes to whip up tensions.
Turkey has become increasingly hostile to Israel in recent months and Erdogan has vowed to “liberate al-Aqsa” and has issued statements saying “Jerusalem is ours.”
This is part of the ideology of Turkey’s ruling party that seeks to whip up the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians and use religion to fuel hatred of Israel. Ankara’s attempt to push this agenda is similar to Iran’s claims that it will also liberate al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem.
At a time when the US is brokering peace deals throughout the Middle East and the Gulf, Turkey’s current trend is to try to sabotage that peace, but this is way out of step with Turkey’s traditional role as a NATO member and also as a country that once enjoyed warm relations with Israel.
Israel and Turkey share much in common as modern economies and were countries that had a similar secular outlook, blending tradition with forward-thinking leaders. But Ankara has taken a turn into a dark alley in recent years and it has increasingly sought to create conflicts across the Middle East, including supporting extremists from Syria that it has used as mercenaries abroad.
It has also rapidly heightened its anti-Israel rhetoric, hosting Hamas twice this year, and calling on countries to oppose Israel. This kind of rhetoric has ramifications, and is designed to poison the minds of the region’s youth at a time when Israel and Arab states are making peace.
Today, Ankara appears to be the most hostile country to Israel in the world, with the exception of Iran.
However, Ankara’s policies are not only hostile to Israel, they also target other US allies, from Greece to Egypt and to the Gulf. Turkey also continues to insult Europe, slamming France with a recent boycott, calling Europeans “spoiled” and “racist” and comparing Europe to Nazi Germany. This abuse of Holocaust memory is unacceptable.
Evidence shows that Turkey is not trying to play a helpful role with Muslim minorities in Europe through promoting tolerance and integration, but rather, it wants to fuel anger and manipulate and use them as leverage against local governments whenever Ankara wants something.
Turkey is playing with fire.
Previous generations have seen what happens when countries try to inflame religious hatred and violent extremism, and Turkey’s current ruler is not only destabilizing the Middle East by buying Russia’s S-400s anti-aircraft missile system, working with Iran, threatening Israel and trying to stir up divisions in Europe. He has also created scapegoats at home, removing Kurdish mayors and stoking tensions against opposition parties, jailing people for tweets and harassing and jailing journalists.
While Ankara compares today’s Europe to the days when it was dominated by fascism in the1930s, a more reasonable comparison would be to observe the rhetoric now being heard from Ankara, and the toxic blend of religion, populism, far-right politics and ethno-nationalism.
The US must confront these rogue policies, and must make clear that there will be no appeasement of Turkey’s threats. It needs to support Greece, Israel, France, the UAE, Egypt, Cyprus, Iraq and other countries threatened by Ankara.
Erdogan must be stopped.