Turkey is turning against the United States and Israel, and cozying up to Syria and Iran.
“There is no doubt he is our friend,” Turkey’s prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, says of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, even as Erdogan accuses Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman of threatening to use nuclear weapons against Gaza. These outrageous assertions point to the profound change of orientation by Turkey’s government—for six decades the West’s closest Muslim ally—since Erdogan’s AK Party came to power in 2002.
Three events reveal the extent of that change. The first came last October with the news that the Turkish military—a longtime bastion of secularism and advocate of cooperation with Israel—had abruptly asked Israeli forces not to participate in the annual Anatolian Eagle air force exercise.
Erdogan cited “diplomatic sensitivities” for the cancellation, and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu spoke of “sensitivity on Gaza, east Jerusalem, and Al-Aksa Mosque.” The Turks specifically rejected Israeli planes that might have attacked Hamas in the Gaza Strip operation of 2008–9. Syria applauded the disinvitation, which prompted the U.S. and Italian governments to withdraw their forces from Anatolian Eagle, which in turn meant canceling the international exercise.