The brand of religious and extreme nationalism supported by the government of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is increasingly becoming a threat to both Israel and regional stability, the Jerusalem Post said in an editorial published on Tuesday.
The article pointed to a statement from the Turkish president last week that Turkey would “liberate” Islam’s third holiest site of Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem – a flashpoint in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – as a follow up to converting the 6th century Hagia Sophia into a mosque.
“The resurrection of Hagia Sophia heralds the liberation of Masjid al-Aqsa, the footsteps of Muslims leaving the Age of Interregnum,” Erdoğan was cited as saying in a statement released by the presidency in Arabic.
Ankara’s rhetoric is reminiscent of Iran in the early 1970s and for both Turkey and Iran “the rise in religious extremism points toward a desire to mobilize the region against Israel’’ it said.
Turkey is rife with anti-Semitism and the spreading of Jewish-Israel conspiracy theories, the Jerusalem Post said, along with the mobilising of far-right religious networks that have an axe to grind with Israel.
Turkey-Israel relations deteriorated sharply in 2010 following Israel’s violent raid on the Turkish aid ship Mavi Marmara, in which 10 people were killed. The incident dealt a serious blow to their bilateral ties, leading to the recalling of diplomatic envoys on both sides.
Erdoğan’s government is a close ally of Hamas, the Jersulem Post said, another commonality it has with Iran, and Turkey’s strongman has been outspoken critic of the relocation of the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
But pro-Ankara elements in Washington have appeased Turkey, it said, coddling its embrace of Hamas and other terrorists and leaving Israel reticent to say anything.
Unchecked extremist power in the region has a history of attacking Israel, the Jerusalem Post said.
“In the long term, this may shift to Turkey – if its increasing attacks on neighbours, crushing of dissent and anti-Israel rhetoric goes unchecked by the Western world,’’ it concluded.