Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkey’s radical and thuggish prime minister, is again showing his true colors: While sycophantic American diplomats still talk about Turkey as a responsible regional state and even talk of a Turkish model for Arab states which have shaken off their dictators, Erdoğan is quietly encouraging Egypt to violate its peace agreement with Israel.
Erdoğan is soon to travel to Egypt to reprise his imagined role as the neo-Ottoman sultan. After years of bashing Israel and embracing not only the Palestinian cause, but that of Hamas as well, he wants to visit the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.
Turkey’s diplomatic corps, however, is one of the last vestiges of the Turkish civil service which is not directly controlled by Erdoğan. In time-honored fashion, they are leaking like sieves, to undercut the visit. “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,” said one diplomat.
The question now 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.