Analysis: Erdogan victory could mean more Turkey-Israel crises

Former Pentagon official says to expect a new flare-up, and soon.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan greets his supporters (photo credit: REUTERS)
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan greets his supporters
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s resounding election victory came as bad news for Israel, which has suffered the brunt of his insults and schemes.
Erdogan’s ruling Islamist AK Party now has a free hand to continue its crackdown against the local media that criticizes its government and others that are deemed to be enemies of the state.
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Erdogan, a Sunni Islamist who, along with Qatar, supports the Muslim Brotherhood regionally – including Hamas – can now become even more aggressive in pursuing its regional ambitions.
The country continues to serve as a hub for Muslim Brotherhood members expelled from Egypt after president Mohamed Morsi’s ouster, as well as for the Hamas terrorist organization, with Erdogan meeting with visiting Hamas chief Khaled Mashaal in August.
Unsurprisingly, Hamas congratulated Erdogan for his election victory.
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“The chances are that the AKP will continue to pursue the same disastrous policies of the last six to seven years,” said Faruk Logoglu, a former veteran diplomat and former vice chairman for the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), as quoted in Turkey’s Today’s Zaman on Monday.
“Thus, as Turkey’s regional and broader marginalization grows, the AKP might be tempted to resort to even more strident discourse and actions,” he said.
The question is not whether the new Turkish government will act against Israel’s interests, but when.
Perhaps in the near term, Erdogan’s regime will be too busy consolidating power, arresting journalists, putting down domestic strife, fighting the Kurds, and dealing with the Syrian war raging next door, than to occupy itself too much with an anti-Israel agenda.
“Expect a new crisis with Israel, and soon,” Michael Rubin, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and a former Pentagon official, told The Jerusalem Post on Monday.
Rubin argued that the fact that “Israeli self-flagellation” in reaction to Turkish aggression only serves “to make Israel- bashing a no-cost option for dictators and anti-Semites the world over.”
“Erdogan is a consummate demagogue. He has targeted not only Jews, but also Kurds, atheists, women, environmentalists, and the West,” he said, adding that since he cannot win arguments on the merits, he resorts to conspiracy.
Prof. Henri Barkey, the director of the Middle East Program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and a former member of the US State Department Policy Planning Staff dealing with Middle East issues, told the Post that the election result does not augur well for Turkish-Israeli political relations.
However, “pragmatism will continue on the economic side,” while the politics will be far more clamorous, he said.