The Corner

All Foreign Politics Is Local

David Ignatius echoes the conventional wisdom that the Gaza flotilla was partly driven was Turkey’s regional ambitions: “Once Israel’s most important regional ally, Turkey now seeks to challenge Israel’s hegemony as the local superpower.” I’m sure that’s true, but one thing seems to be missing in looking at Turkey’s role in setting this trap for Israel — domestic politics. It seems to me that a big part of the motivation of the Islamist government in Ankara for making a big fuss over the flotilla is to delegitimize their Kemalist opponents in the military and elsewhere by firing up the populace against the Jews. In other words, flotilla-quiddick is an extension of the trials of the alleged Sledgehammer plotters as part of the Erdogan government’s broad effort to subvert Turkey’s secularist ideology. I actually think that’s already happened; in Chinese terms, the Kemalist dynasty has lost the Mandate of Heaven, but it’s dead and won’t lie down, and Erdogan is using flotilla-quiddick as a way of getting it to finally lie down.

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