During his visit to Washington this week, Israeli defense minister Moshe Ya'alon has spent part of his time criticizing Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority, warning about the dangers of a bad nuclear deal with Iran—and highlighting the problems with Turkey.
As Haaretz reports today, Ya’alon has been complaining about the negative role Turkey and its now president and former prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan have played the last several years.
“It’s unbelievable – how can you ignore it?” Ya'alon exclaimed during an interview with journalist Charlie Rose, broadcast on PBS and Bloomberg TV. He maintained his onslaught on Ankara in a Washington meeting with his U.S. counterpart Chuck Hagel, telling his American colleague, according to a statement issued by his office: “Turkey is playing a cynical game. Hamas moved its terror headquarters from Damascus to Istanbul, despite the fact that Turkey is a NATO member.” Ya'alon said that Turkey’s policies often contradict the interests of the United States.
Daniel Pipes made many of the same points in THE WEEKLY STANDARD earlier this month. “Since mid-2011,” Pipes writes, “Erdogan’s government began breaking laws, turned autocratic, and allied with the enemies of the United States.”
Pipes argues that it’s in the American interest to correct Turkey’s course. “The Obama administration can signal that the bullying tactics that have won Erdogan votes at home have won him only animosity in the rest of the world,” Pipes writes. “If Erdogan insists on acting the rogue, then that’s how its former ally [the United States] should treat him.”
We’re not quite at the point where Ankara is a “former” ally, but as Moshe Ya’alon has indicated this week, it would be best for Israel, the United States, and likely Turkey, too, if the White House learned to manage a valuable, but far too volatile, NATO partner more closely.