December 14, 2023 | Townhall

Erdogan’s Hypocrisy Has No Boundaries!

December 14, 2023 | Townhall

Erdogan’s Hypocrisy Has No Boundaries!

Among the Muslim world, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan likes to think of himself as a leading figure, overseeing a moral and justified crusade against Israel. It is nothing short of hypocritical hyperbole, and it should be called out.

Since the October 7 terror attacks, Erdogan has not only failed to unequivocally condemn Hamas’ barbaric murder of over 1,200 Israelis, but instead praised the terrorist organization as a group of “mujahedeen” freedom fighters. Conversely, he has used every public speaking opportunity to vilify Israel’s counterterrorism operations as the actions of a “terrorist state.” Taking its lead from Erdogan, Turkey’s flag carrier, Turkish Airlines stopped serving Coca Cola products on domestic flights, and many government officials encouraged Turkish citizens to boycott American firms which support Israel, including Starbucks, Burger King and McDonalds. While many of Erdogan’s faithful voters are keen to follow his guidance, it is clear that business circles who have existing trade ties with Israel, and who are close to the Erdogan regime, have not followed suit.

Indeed, it is fair to say that Turkish government officials who spend the greatest amount of time publicly vilifying Israel, are the ones who have the strongest business ties with the Jewish state, and conveniently ignore Erdogan’s call for a boycott. This includes Erdogan’s own son, Burak Erdogan. Investigative journalism continues to reveal on a daily basis, the various personalities and volume of trade that takes place between Turkey and Israel. Turkey’s former Prime Minister, Binali Yildirim, his on Erkam and Erdogan’s son, Burak Erdogan are all implicated in continuing their trading relationship with Israel. Through their shipping companies and the vessels attached to them, these persons continue to earn millions of dollars from Israel, while publicly condemning Israel.  

Turkey’s total volume of trade with Israel is presently just over $7 billion annually. If you look at the volume over a twenty-five-year timeframe, you will see that with very few exceptions (most likely attributable to economic downturns), bilateral trade between the two countries has grown year on year. The economic relationship is sophisticated and mature, covering a wide range of goods and services exported by Turkey. Among the varied items included are $1 billion worth of iron and steel, around $560 million worth of vehicles, and $360 million in machinery. 

Given this level of hypocrisy, one would think that the United States government and the wider Arab world, which attempts to convene diplomatic summits in search for an end to the conflict in Gaza, would refrain from eliciting the services of the Turkish government. Ankara is duplicitous and unreliable. However, last week, at the alleged insistence of the Saudi government, Turkish foreign minister Hakan Fidan, attended a meeting with Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, which also included representatives of other regional Arab States. The aim was to find a way to stop the fighting in Gaza. To suggest that this is pure lunacy on the part of the State Department, is an understatement. To follow logic: Hamas is not interested in brokering negotiated settlement with Israel, it wants to eliminate Israel. Turkey supports Hamas and houses the organization on Turkish soil. What role exists for Turkey to broker a settlement?

Ankara’s duplicitous stance is not only limited to its ongoing economic relationship with Israel. It can also be observed in its security relationship with the United States. Since October 7, Turkish hooligans have besieged U.S. missions and military bases inside of Turkey. Ankara continues to dig in and refuses to extradite or expel any Hamas operatives from Turkey to Israel. On December 14, the U.S. Treasury and British authorities issued a fourth round of sanctions against Hamas person’s inside Turkey, to include Jihad Yagmour and Mehmet Kaya-high profile fixers between the Turkish government and Hamas, who reisde in Turkey. Given the weight of Turkey’s entrenched and deepening ties with terrorist entities, what’s the argument against suggesting that Turkey should be classified as a state sponsor of terrorism? 

The U.S. government’s relationship with Turkey is inconsistent. If the Treasury is sanctioning high profile Hamas operatives with linkages to the Erdogan regime, why then is the State Department inviting and listening to anything Turkey’s Foreign Minister has to say? It seems pretty clear that our relationship with Ankara is not dissimilar to that with Pakistan. In which case, our dealings with Ankara, should mirror how we deal with Islamabad. 

Sinan Ciddi is a non-resident senior fellow at FDD and an expert on Turkish domestic politics and foreign policy.


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