Turkish President's Dangerous Game: How His Support For Hamas Is Testing NATO's Limits

By Javier Sanchez | Monday, 22 April 2024 12:00 PM
Views 1.1K
Image Credit : BBC News

The enduring question of Turkey's membership in NATO under the leadership of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has once again been thrust into the spotlight.

Erdogan's recent actions have raised eyebrows and prompted renewed scrutiny of his allegiances. The Turkish leader hosted Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh at the Dolmabahce Palace in Istanbul, where instead of advocating for peace or the release of hostages, he issued a statement encouraging Palestinians to "unite for victory" against Israel.

Erdogan's call for unity between the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and Hamas against Israel is a stark departure from the stance of most NATO members, who have sided with Israel against Hamas.

According to the Times of Israel, Erdogan's meeting with Haniyeh lasted several hours, during which he emphasized the importance of Palestinian unity. This comes in the wake of Erdogan's failed attempts to establish himself as a mediator in the ongoing Gaza conflict, a role currently held by Qatar. Erdogan's support for Hamas, which he has previously referred to as a "liberation group", and his comparison of Israel to the Nazis, raises questions about his suitability as a mediator.

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Erdogan's unabashed support for the Palestinian cause is not a recent development. Last year, following the October 7 terror attacks, he likened Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Hitler and labeled Israel a "terrorist state." In addition to his verbal support, Turkey has been providing substantial aid to Gaza in the form of food, medicine, and other necessities. However, Erdogan's recent actions have escalated his support to a new level, revealing his true alliances. In response, Israel's Foreign Minister has stated that Erdogan would not be welcome to visit Israel and could only serve as a messenger between Israel and Hamas.

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The United States, which annually provides Turkey with over $100 million in general aid and a larger sum in military aid, may need to reconsider its relationship with the country. Erdogan's actions, including striking deals with Russia, China, and Venezuela, purchasing Russian missile systems in defiance of NATO restrictions, and detaining American citizens in Turkish prisons, have strained the alliance. His open support for Hamas and opposition to Israel further complicate the situation.

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Erdogan's actions have not only strained relations with the United States but also within NATO. His decision to delay Sweden's application to join NATO, presumably to avoid upsetting Russian President Vladimir Putin, is indicative of his duplicitous approach to international relations. Under Erdogan's leadership, Turkey has been playing both sides against the middle, a strategy that is becoming increasingly untenable.

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As the United States and its allies confront a new axis of evil, the time has come for nations to choose their allegiances. Erdogan's recent actions have made it abundantly clear where his loyalties lie. The question remains: how long can Turkey maintain its NATO membership while its leader openly supports entities that are at odds with the alliance's principles and objectives?

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