Following the venomous verbal attack launched on Israel by Turkey’s President, and Israel’s strong reply, diplomatic relations between Jerusalem and Ankara are once again heading for a deterioration. It seems clear this was a calculated move by Erdogan, designed to position Turkey as the head of a revived Sunni Islamist hardline axis, which includes Hamas.
Domestically, Erdogan has embarked on a path to Islamicize Turkish society, and systematically target and repress the secular liberal opposition to him.
Internationally, he is trying to turn Turkey into a neo-Ottoman Islamist power house, and has come some way towards installing himself as a modern day sultan. His attacks on the EU seem to serve the same purpose as well.
Erdogan’s calculated decision to heap fundamentalist-laced attacks on Israel, with references to Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa Mosque, could serve his attempt to position Turkey as the head of a revived pro-Muslim Brotherhood axis.
This axis is today small and isolated, long past its peak time of 2012, when Muslim Brotherhood President Mohammed Morsi rose to power in Egypt. At that time, Hamas in Gaza was euphorically counting on having its mother movement in Egypt as its prime regional backer. Those hopes were dashed with the fall of Morsi.
Today, Turkey remains one of Hamas’s only friends, and continues to host Hamas’s overseas headquarters in Istanbul, from where terrorist plots against Israel have been coordinated.
Yet Erdogan, it seems, has not given up on reviving this axis, and plans to lead it. His latest aggressive statements should probably be seen in that context.