Ankara continues its crusade against France – analysis

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Turkey is trying to outmaneuver Saudi Arabia and Egypt as a “defender” of Islam and has invented the crisis to push this crusade against French President Emmanuel Macron.

https://www.jpost.com-By SETH J. FRANTZMAN
TURKISH PRESIDENT Recep Tayyip Erdogan
(photo credit: REUTERS/MURAD SEZER)

Turkey’s President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has compared Israel to Nazi Germany and has threatened to “liberate” Jerusalem from Israeli control, continued his rants and threats against Europe on Wednesday.

It has now been a week since he created a largely illusory crisis with Paris to distract from the decline of Turkey’s currency, blaming France for “insulting Islam.”

The largely invented crisis stems from the murder of a teacher in France by an Islamist extremist who believed rumors that cartoons mocking religion had been shown in class. A father of a student incited against the teacher and an extremist teen who had received asylum in France from Chechnya, beheaded the victim. France gave the teacher a hero’s funeral and Turkey decided to latch onto this tragedy. It is one of a string of crises Turkey has created in recent months.

Turkey ethnically cleansed Kurds from northern Syria in 2018 and 2019 and then hired Syrian refugees to fight in Libya so Ankara could obtain energy rights.

Turkey has bought Russia’s S-400 air defense system, ruining relations with its NATO ally, the United States, has threatened French warships, used the S-400 to track Greek F-16s and has threatened Greece. Now, it wants to stoke tensions with Europe because Erdogan needs a crises every week to keep his government from being criticized at home for largely failing Turkey’s citizens by mismanaging the economy.

Now, Turkey’s leadership has embarked on a tirade, ranting against France and claiming that it is “dishonoring” the Prophet Muhammad. However, Turkey’s regime did not condemn the bombing attack on a mosque in Pakistan on Tuesday and does not condemn mistreatment of Muslims in many countries, illustrating that its rants against France are more about politics than reality. Turkey is trying to outmaneuver Saudi Arabia and Egypt as a “defender” of Islam and has invented the crisis to push this crusade against French President Emmanuel Macron.

The incitement has the potential to raise tensions in Europe and fan flames of terror. Turkey’s regime claimed that “disrespect for the prophet” was spreading in Europe, although there is no evidence that such disrespect is spreading.

Turkey’s far-right media, which is entirely pro-government because Ankara is the largest jailer of critical journalists in the world, has depicted the murder of the teacher in France as acceptable “retaliation.” Anadolu news agency, which reflects the ruling party’s views, argued on Wednesday that the beheading was “in retaliation for showing controversial cartoons.” The word “retaliation” makes it appear that the act was acceptable and Turkey does not refer to the beheading as a criminal or terrorist act.

Turkey has also targeted the French magazine, already targeted in two terrorist attacks. Its regime launched an investigation seeking to charge the magazine with “insulting” the president of Turkey for running a cartoon of him. Turkey’s regime often insults other countries and presidents, threatening US Democratic candidate Joe Biden, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and labeling Macron mentally deranged.

Foreign media was told by Ankara to change the comments to reference Macron as having “lost his way,” but not all media obeyed. CNN accurately reported that Turkey said Macron needed “medical treatment.” France has recalled its ambassador.

Turkey’s incitement against the magazine Charlie Hebdo recalls the incitement five years ago that led to the murderous attack on the magazine. Ankara has said that European media cannot hide behind freedom of expression. However, Turkey, in a contradictory manner, tends to support the same insults and cartoons against foreign leaders, even comparing Israel to Nazis, while Ankara claims that its leadership must not be insulted.

In Turkey, many people are jailed for years for mocking the leading party on social media. Turkey has become more repressive than almost any other country when it comes to jailing people for social media posts.

Ankara has also accused France of “relaunching the crusades.” The entire chorus of rants from Ankara appear instigated by the government and pro-government media.

It is unclear when Ankara will shift its strategy to a new crisis or attacks on Syria, Greece, Iraq, Armenia, Libya, Israel, the UAE, Egypt or other countries that Turkey’s regime has created crises with in the last six months. Usually, Turkey’s leader creates a new crises every week as the Turkish Lira sinks to new lows to distract from the economy. So far, at least a dozen countries have paid the price and some 400,000 people have been forced from their homes by Ankara’s crises-driven militarist policies.

Turkey also suggested this week that Cyprus be officially partitioned, potentially creating another conflict with NATO and the EU. That may be the next target when the “cartoons” crisis gets boring for Ankara.

Turkey has already created another war next door in Armenia, driving some 50,000 people from their homes by pushing Azerbaijan to attack Armenian forces in a disputed area. Thousands of casualties have resulted and Turkey sent Syrian rebels to fight Armenia, hoping to rid itself of their complaints about how Ankara has abandoned them in Idlib to Russian airstrikes.

This week, airstrikes killed a number of Syrians and Ankara remained silent but those deaths did not “insult religion,” cartoons were more offensive than the loss of human life.

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