Turkey Signals A Shift Towards Arab Radicals

Is Turkey shifting away from the United States and Israel, and toward Arab radicals? For years, its military has had close ties with Israel's, and Ankara has acted as a gobetween for Jerusalem and Arab capitals. But after Israel's Gaza campaign, Turkey is taking a strong anti-Israel and anti-Western stance. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has called the assault a "crime against humanity," and last week stormed out of a Davos meeting after accusing Israel's President Shimon Peres of having a "guilt complex" for "killing people." He also blasted the West for remaining "spectators." Ordinary Turks seem to share the sentiments and greeted Erdogan like a hero on his return to Istanbul. Large crowds in dozens of Turkish cities have also recently burned American and Israeli flags and shouted anti-Semitic slogans.

Other signs of a shift have Washington worried. Turkey is strengthening ties with Iran, including intelligence-sharing on Kurdish insurgents. And last fall, Erdogan told a Washington think tank that "those who possess nuclear weapons should not ask Iran not to produce them." In August, Turkey also blocked the transit of U.S. warships into the Black Sea. Turkish policymakers insist Ankara isn't taking sides. "We have more than one dimension in our foreign policy," says Erdogan's chief foreign-policy adviser, Ahmet Davutoglu. But also, it seems, friends on both sides of the conflict.

Join the Discussion