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What David Cameron Doesn't Know About Turkey

Turkey is sponsoring the jihadists, not guarding against them.

3:10 PM, Jul 29, 2010 • By MICHAEL WEISS
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Who said this?

Hamas are resistance fighters who are struggling to defend their land. They have won an election. I have told this to U.S. officials ... I do not accept Hamas as a terrorist organization.  I think the same today.  They are defending their land.

That would be Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, speaking before an exultant crowd a few weeks ago in the city of Konya as a newly decorated defender of regional Islamism. This is the man whom David Cameron was out to please the other day when, in a speech delivered in Ankara, he referred to Gaza as a “prison camp,” assailed Israel’s raid on the Mavi Marmara as “completely unacceptable,” and insisted that despite the aura of hopelessness now clinging to Turkey’s agonized bid to join the European Union, it must join it whatever the grumblings from Germany and France.  Brutal occupation of Cyprus, subjugation of a Kurdish minority in everything from politics to linguistics, and ongoing denial of the Armenian genocide are evidently Maastricht-compatible initiatives to the new British prime minister, considered even by his support base not to “do” foreign policy so terribly well.

That didn’t stop a fellow Conservative, MEP Daniel Hannan, from encouraging Cameron’s Obama-like overture to an increasingly hostile and subversive ally: “Cameron's reasons for backing Ankara's bid for EU membership are solidly Tory: Turkey guarded Europe's flank against the Bolshevists for three generations, and may one day be called on to do the same against the jihadis.” 

Except that Turkey is sponsoring the jihadists, not guarding against them—a fact which ought to have been clear to Cameron in the post-script news coverage to the flotilla crisis. The best look into Turkey’s turn toward radicalism has been provided by independent Turkish journalists who have for months been arguing that Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) is leading the country into the asphyxiating embrace of the East. The Islamist “lite” party, which won power in 2002, used to adhere to a policy of “zero problems with the neighbors;” today it prefers one of helping the neighbors cause problems with the West.

Consider AKP’s relationship with IHH, the Turkish “charity” that was behind the well-planned assault of Israeli commandos on board the Mavi Marmara, a ship that, it always bears repeating, carried no humanitarian aid cargo whatsoever. (Its upper-deck personnel, on the other hand, were armed and individually loaded with bundles of cash yet no forms of identification. If not jihadist by avocation, they certainly dressed the part.) 

IHH, which was founded in 1992 and registered as a charity three years later, has undergone a series of transformations over the past two decades. It started out under the pretext of providing social services to the Muslim community (building mosques, helping orphans) but swiftly came under suspicion for being a liaison to al Qaeda. It has finally found a role it’s proud to own, that of being an Anatolian philanthropy for Hamas. (Ironically, Turkish authorities before the Erdogan era were the ones who did the most to scrutinize the NGO; so intense was the legal pressure brought to bear on IHH that it was even prohibited from contributing to Turkish earthquake relief efforts in 1999 and its funds were frozen in Istanbul by the then governor of the city.) 

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