Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Turkish Islamist Regime Sounds Just Like Iran

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By Barry Rubin

We constantly see the use of the “Israel excuse” for problems and policy moves in the Middle East. The argument is repeatedly made that if only Israel settled the Palestinian issue there would be no problems, a claim also made regarding growing antisemitism in Europe.

Both Jewish history and Israeli history, however, shows that while this seems a simple and logical explanation to many observers things don’t quite work out this way. Israel withdrew from the most of the West Bank and Gaza Strip during the 1990s, and then completed a full withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. The result was increased, not reduced, antagonism in some vocal Western circles and on the part of radical forces in the region.

Often, though, there is internal evidence in such statements that shows the problem goes much farther, as in the growing extremism of the Islamist regime in Turkey. Take Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s remarks in Pakistan, for example. He was complaining about the fact that the United States opposed and European countries abstained on a UN vote for a report condemning Israel over the Gaza flotilla incident.

Yet his carefully chosen words are quite chilling, echoing Iranian and Syrian rhetoric: “The powers that are trying to divide and destroy the Islamic world are known to all.”

If he wants to complain about Israel and Western support for it in this matter, he knows exactly how to do so. But to make the inflammatory remark that the West wants to “destroy the Islamic world,” which to any listener implies that they are waging a Crusader-style war against Islam, goes far beyond that.

Erdoğan is known to be excitable and demagogic, yet it should not pass notice that he and his government sound almost identical nowadays to Tehran, which has been becoming that regime’s closest ally.

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). The website of the GLORIA Center is at and of his blog, Rubin Reports,

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