While some might find Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan calling Israel a “terrorist state” over their recent attacks on Gaza somewhat shocking, it is in fact nothing new.
In March of this year, for instance, Erdoğan called Israeli strikes on Gaza an act of “state terror” while adding that the people of Turkey are obligated to “remember that Gazans are our brothers, and will always remain so.”
Yet, somewhat unsurprisingly, Erdoğan did nothing then, just as he did nothing to follow through with the promise of military escorts for flotillas attempting to break the Israeli blockade on Gaza.
It is, therefore, fair to assume that these statements from Erdoğan are similarly meaningless attempts to capitalize on a tragedy for his own selfish purposes.
This type of political maneuvering is especially troubling since the numbers of dead Palestinians is now around at least 96, all in just six days, according to CBS. At least 24 civilians have been killed in less than two days, according to health officials in Gaza.
Yet Erdoğan apparently has no qualms with leveraging these horrific events for his own ends.
“Those who associate Islam with terrorism close their eyes in the face of mass killing of Muslims, turn their heads from the massacre of children in Gaza,” said Erdoğan at a conference of the Eurasian Islamic Council in Istanbul, Turkey.
“For this reason, I say that Israel is a terrorist state, and its acts are terrorist acts,” Erdoğan said.
This type of rhetoric from Erdoğan is also somewhat nonsensical since Israel and Turkey once maintained quite friendly ties until Operation Cast Lead (although they did not cut ties completely at that point) followed by the 2010 attack on the Turkish ship attempting to break through the Israeli blockade on Gaza. It seems that the attack on the MV Mavi Marmara, which left nine activists dead including eight Turkish nationals and one Turkish-American citizen, was the final straw, so to speak.
Keep in mind, Erdoğan has been the Turkish Prime Minister since 2003.
After a the United Nations report on the Mavi Marmara incident, which largely removed all blame from Israel, was released in September of last year, Turkey expelled the Israeli ambassador and froze all military cooperation.
Earlier this month, Turkey began a trial of the Israeli commanders behind the attack in absentia, which Israel dismissed as a “show trial” and “political theater,” according to The Times of Israel.
Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu is slated to travel to Gaza on Tuesday along with a group of foreign ministers from Arab League member nations, according to AFP, although no further details have been released.
Davutoğlu previously called the latest Israeli assault on Gaza a “crime against humanity,” and agreed to the visit during a meeting with Khaled Meshaal, a Hamas leader, in Cairo on Sunday.
It remains to be seen if Turkey will actually do anything, or if their statements on this latest series of attacks are just as hollow as their previous heated rhetoric.