While President Obama blathers about Warren Buffett’s secretary and her tax rates, the world continues to grow ever more dangerous. The latest shift is coming from Turkey’s foreign minister and his vision for a new “axis” (his word) in the Middle East.
The portrait was described by Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu of Turkey in an hourlong interview before he was to leave for the United Nations, where a contentious debate was expected this week over a Palestinian bid for recognition as a state. Viewed by many as the architect of a foreign policy that has made Turkey one of the most relevant players in the Muslim world, Mr. Davutoglu pointed to that issue and others to describe a region in the midst of a transformation. Turkey, he said, was “right at the center of everything.”
He declared that Israel was solely responsible for the near collapse in relations with Turkey, once an ally, and he accused Syria’s president of lying to him after Turkish officials offered the government there a “last chance” to salvage power by halting its brutal crackdown on dissent.
Strikingly, he predicted a partnership between Turkey and Egypt, two of the region’s militarily strongest and most populous and influential countries, which he said could create a new axis of power at a time when American influence in the Middle East seems to be diminishing.
“This is what we want,” Mr. Davutoglu said.
“This will not be an axis against any other country — not Israel, not Iran, not any other country, but this will be an axis of democracy, real democracy,” he added. “That will be an axis of democracy of the two biggest nations in our region, from the north to the south, from the Black Sea down to the Nile Valley in Sudan.”
Israel is a real democracy, and it did not isolate itself as Davutoglu says. Turkey broke with its long-standing ally and sided with the Gaza flotilla. Davotoglu’s vision isn’t really about democracy in any regard. It seems to be more about strengthening an Islamist-military rule. Turkey has that now; Egypt didn’t under Mubarak but probably will before too long. What this will mean for Turkey’s role in NATO, and Israel’s future of increased isolation as two of its former allies become its enemies and link up with each other, remains to be seen.