Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been generating international attention recently with sharp criticism of three countries that have had close relations with his country: Israel, Syria and the United States.
In an interview with Morning Edition’s David Greene, Erdogan said the Syrians have a right to determine their future. Instead of bringing about reforms, President Bashar Assad has been “turning guns toward his own people.”
The Turkish leader has also been a repeated critic of Israel. Relations between the two states have been spiraling downward since last year, when Israeli commandos raided a Turkish aid flotilla headed for the Gaza Strip, killing nine Turkish citizens. Earlier this month, Turkey downgraded relations, and Erdogan says ties will not improve until Israel apologizes and meets other demands.
In addition, Erdogan has been a strong supporter of the Palestinians. He is currently so popular in the Palestinian territories that his photo is prominently displayed in many public places.
He sees the U.S. as standing in the way of the Palestinian people and their attempt to achieve statehood at the U.N. He says he has “no doubt” that the U.S. image in the region has been harmed by the Obama administration’s opposition to the Palestinian’s U.N. bid.
Honestly, on which of those points is he off the mark? And most importantly, he was right recently to remind Obama of his own speech to the UN last year in which he stated his hope that the UN would back Palestinian statehood: a sentiment he essentially renounced last week in his speech to the UN (which was, in polite terms, utterly pro-Israel and anti-Palestinians).
If American politicians had the same sense of moral center and character as the Turkish PM, maybe something could be accomplished.