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07 September 2011

Turkey emerges as new power of Muslim world

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By Mohammad Jamil

Exasperated by Israel’s intransigence and its refusal to apologise and pay compensation to the families of those killed in the Israeli raid on the flotilla, Turkey expelled Israel’s envoy, downgraded diplomatic relations and suspended all military agreements with Israel. Earlier, the UN report described the excessive use of force by Israel; however it said that blockade was legal and appropriate. This is travesty of the truth, as the flotilla was in the international waters, therefore Israel’s raid cannot be described legal or appropriate in any case.

Since 2008 when Israel invaded Gaza, and after bombardment of Gaza in December 2008 and January 2009, relations between Turkey and Israel had turned very sour. In January 2009 at the World Economic Forum in Davos in Switzerland, Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan had blasted Israel’s President Shimon Peres stating: “You kill people. I remember the children who died on beaches.”

In May 2010 when Israeli naval commandos raided the flotilla carrying aid for Palestinians, many countries of the world had condemned Israel for blatant violations of international law. Twenty Arab nations had joined in expressing grave concern and condemnation of the Israeli aggression on Gaza-bound aid ships, killing nine human rights activists and injuring scores of others. The Organisation of Islamic Conference did not go beyond ‘noble sentiments’ and failed to mobilise the world opinion against atrocities on the Palestinians. Of course, a joint statement by Turkey and 20 Arab nations had called on the United Nations to investigate in a credible, thorough and transparent manner Israel’s assault on aid ship. Muslim leaders had rallied around Turkey in the ‘Conference on interaction and confidence building measures in Asia’ (CICA), backing their host’s call for Israel to end its blockade of Gaza immediately.

Once close ally of the US and Israel, Turkey’s relations have soured since Erdogan started supporting Palestinian cause after an Israeli offensive in Gaza in 2008 and consequent embargo. Turkey was in touch with other countries of the world seeking their help to pressurise Israel into ending the embargo, but to no avail. Also being fed up with ever-increasing conditions by the European Union for accepting Turkey in its fold, Turkey started looking eastward. And there appears to be a paradigm shift in its foreign policy. Of course, Israel’s policy towards Palestinians has been the basic reason for this change.

Many analysts considered the projection of the Israeli military might in Gaza, West Bank or in Lebanon as demonstration of a baser bellicosity of an inebriated state that drew its strength from the world’s sole superpower – the US.

Because of unqualified support of sole superpower America, Israel has defied the United Nations Security Council’s resolutions, orders from International Court of Justice to stop settlement activity in the West Bank, and showed utter disregard to the pacts and agreements it signed to ensure an independent Palestinian state. This minuscule country has so much control on decisions made by the US and other powerful nations that it refuses to abide by international laws and treaties with impunity. Moreover, it is the only country that could get away with assassinating its enemies on foreign soil. Had any other country flouted the international law and covenants, the United Nations Security Council would have passed resolutions and slapped harsh sanctions on that country.

In 2009, Turkey had barred Israel from the air drill (exercise) with Nato, but called off the international drill after the US and Italy pulled out in protest over Israel’s exclusion. For years the joint military operation ‘Anatolian Eagle’ was emblematic of the strong relations between Israel and Turkey. Having that said, Turkey is playing a greater role in the international affairs today. Reportedly, it is involved in creating an understanding between the Taliban and Afghan government. It is hoped that one day Turkey would also support the cause of people of Kashmir. Today, Turkey’s leadership is taking independent decisions because it has the political acumen and is also backed by the people’s power. Turkey reflects aspirations of the Muslim ummah, and is poised to emerge as leader of the Muslim World. Its leadership has put together a strategic plan that aims to make Turkey a world power by 2023. Leaders of other Muslim countries should emulate Turkey’s leadership and start taking independent decisions.

(Courtesy: The Nation)

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