Turkish Delight

Turkish Delight
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Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has entered into a war- of-words with Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu over the recent massacre of at least 61 unarmed Palestinian protesters by Israeli forces. “Netanyahu is the PM of an apartheid state that has occupied a defenceless people’s lands for 60+ yrs in violation of UN resolutions,” Erdogan said. “He has the blood of Palestinians on his hands and can’t cover up crimes by attacking Turkey,” he added. The tweet came in response to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu lashing out earlier in the day at Erdogan’s criticism of the mass killings by Israel on the Gaza border. The twitter war of words became worth repeating here to illustrate and, in the least, highlight, someone who has stood up for Palestinians and spoken a few words against the Gaza massacre, against the backdrop of near silence by Muslim states. The reasons for the silence might lie in fear, that is, fear of offending the United States, by speaking out against the illegal Israeli occupation and its wanton massacre of Palestinians. It was and perhaps is only Turkey which could and can speak out against Israel’s crimes. It may be worth pointing out here that Turkey has been in the midst of great churn and change since a while with the Justice Party (AKP) at the forefront of it all. The country, it may be recalled, had been forcibly secularized by Attaturk, who wanted to make or remake it in the image of the West. This forced, top down modernity went against the faith, beliefs and gravamen of most Turkish Muslims, except for a small westernized elite, who held and wielded power in the defense and maintenance of this forced secularization. But, over time, through a gradualist movement, pioneered by the AKP, Turkey is reverting to its essence, so to speak. While the trajectory has not been without ups and downs, but the fact remains that Turkey is perhaps the only Muslim state that has the power, wherewithal and dignity to both say No to its detractors and enemies but also stand up for oppression against Muslims. The twitter war between Erdogan and Netanyahu illustrates the point. While Turkey, whatever and regardless of what the partisan and motivated Western media might say, is doing well, the country has to and must do more. It must develop a robust economic growth and development model, develop and cultivate both hard and soft power capabilities, and be more visible internationally. Turkey must also more intensely look to and reach out to the East. If Turkey gets it right, the leadership role of the Muslim world might fall on it, by default. It is this potential that Turkey must look forward to and develop its capabilities in this direction.

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