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Thursday, April 25, 2013

Who's the boss?

On Wednesday, Jonathan Tobin looked at the consequences of Turkey's putdown of US Secretary of State John FN Kerry's efforts to stop Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan from visiting Gaza.
Kerry did the right thing by publicly trying to restrain the Turks from involving themselves in Palestinian politics. But he did so while laboring under the false assumption that the friendship between the American president and the Turkish prime minister was so strong that Erdoğan’s freelancing in the region was an aberration rather than a fundamental principle of Ankara’s policy. The blunder here was not in what he said. But by journeying to Turkey to make the request without any real idea that it would be respected he demonstrated to everyone in the region that he was not a force to be reckoned with. Having told Kerry that Erdoğan’s travel plans are none of his business, any hope of persuading the Turks to avoid inflaming the situation has been effectively spiked.
The point here isn’t that Kerry created a dangerous problem. That was Erdoğan’s fault. But by blundering about the region and allowing himself to be first stiffed and then publicly spanked in this manner, the secretary has diminished his influence as well as that of the United States.
This is an administration that once turned a minor housing start announcement in Jerusalem during a visit by Vice President Biden into a major diplomatic contretemps in which it claimed Netanyahu had insulted it. But it is now finding out what it really means to be insulted by a nation that calls itself an American ally, and the result is far from pretty.
In the meantime, Hamas is celebrating another foreign policy defeat for the United States. 
In a brief statement from Doha, a copy of which was received by the Palestinian Information Centre, Haniyeh said: “We welcome the visit of the Turkish Prime Minister and we appreciate this attitude, which shows the nobility of Turkey’s leadership and people, and shows its embrace of and support for the Palestinian cause.” He stressed that the visit confirmed the time of American domination has ended.
And Erdogan is flaunting his victory.
Erdogan, who has always underlined his desire to visit the Palestinian enclave, said last week he planned to go to Gaza following an official visit to the United States in May. “Delaying my trip (to Gaza) is out of question. As I said in the past the Gaza trip will take place after my trip to the United States. There will be no delay,” Erdogan told reporters, according to state media.
What could go wrong?

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