The risks of Turkish rhetoric

Turkey's outrage over Israeli strikes in Syria undermine its own interests and diplomacy.

By ANTHONY RUSONIK
February 6, 2013 16:19
3 minute read.
Leaders during AK Party congress in Ankara

Morsy and Erdogan 300. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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The dust has yet to settle from Israel’s airstrikes into Syria last week. Given Israel’s rigid “neither confirm nor deny” stance, designed to avoid rhetorical provocations to respond, most pundits have been forced to speculate on the exact target and whether the embattled Assad regime will retaliate. Fear and speculation swirls over possible Iranian engagement. In the meantime, the responsible diplomatic world withholds comment and holds its breath.

The exception, once again, is  Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Turkey. Saturday witnessed the remarkable spectacle of the Turkish Foreign Minister publicly taunting Syrian dictator Bashar al Assad to retaliate: “Why didn't Assad even throw a pebble when Israeli jets were flying over his palace?" asked Ahmet Davutoglu. Unless the Turks are much smarter and bolder than the rest of the diplomatic community--and if they genuinely hope that a Syrian retaliation will provoke a full-scale Israeli operation that would overthrow the embattled Damascus regime and rid Turkey of the Assad problem--then such statements undermine responsible diplomacy and Turkish self-interest.

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