Michael Totten

Turkey Escalates its Row with Israel

Turkey is imposing “sanctions” on Israel. “We are completely suspending all of these, trade relations, military relations, related with the defense industry,” says Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. “All of these are completely suspended and other measures will follow this process.”

The Turks have also ordered Israeli diplomats out of the country by Wednesday and Ergogan is talking about taking a trip to Gaza through the Rafah crossing after meeting with his “Egyptian friends and brothers” in Cairo.

His posturing is making him more popular than ever in the Arab world while Iran’s credibility—already shaky to begin with—is falling with its staunch support of Assad’s bloody regime in Syria. Erdogan, by coming out more strongly against Assad than even Western government are while simultaneously downgrading his relations with Israel, is doing a much better job positioning himself for a popular regional leadership role than Iran’s government is.

Some of Turkey’s diplomats, though, aren’t particularly impressed with what Erdogan is up to and are pushing back: “Erdoğan’s entry to Gaza through the Rafah border crossing would put Egypt in a delicate position, since that would mean violating existing agreements between Israel and Egypt,” says one.

“The question now” Michael Rubin writes in Commentary, “is whether Erdoğan’s desire to score populist points is greater than Turkey’s respect for Middle East peace and the increasingly shattered legacy of the Camp David Accords.”