Turkish Prime Minister Tayyıp Erdoğan returned to a hero's welcome in Istanbul last night after delivering a righteous bitchslap to a yammering Shimon Peres at Davos. The organizers of this increasingly irrelevant schmoozefest must have been thrilled, since the event has attracted the creme of the second string crop and produced absolutely nothing newsworthy. Astute choice of venue, Tayyıp.
While we will always applaud a dramatic piece of political theater, wethinks the Dustup at Davos deserves a bit of context. Could mobilizing the base for upcoming local elections have had anything to do with it? Or could it serve as a distraction from increasing criticism about the way AKP has handled the Ergenekon investigation? And, since when did he have a problem with leaders who kill people? This move was purely for domestic consumption.
A Turk gesturing on behalf of oppressed Palestinians is about as politically courageous as an American advocating for a "democratic transition" in Belarus: There's absolutely nothing at stake and everyone gets to feel good about themselves. Turkey has no aggrieved Palestinians occupying valuable political real estate. There's no chance of instability on its borders. And, it has a population (definitely not a tribe) that needs no excuse to wave flags and express outrage at perceived slights. We don't see any downsides to Erdoğan's outburst except, oh, perhaps a missed opportunity for Turkey to serve as a levelheaded mediator in the conflict, something that could actually help the Palestinians! Maalasef.
Prior to this event, we had planned to give this whole topic a pass. But have a look at the photos of AKP's district HQ/tea garden/smoke filled room, festooned with Palestinian flags. There have been more posters of dead babies around the 'hood than at a protest outside a Topeka Planned Parenthood. Banners and booths on Istiklal promote fundraising efforts on behalf of the Muslim brothers, the proceeds of which will almost certainly reach the poor Gazans, minus the necessary administration fees, of course.
Keep those crocodile tears flowing, Ankara.