Media coverage of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan hosting Hamas leadership has been sparse.
It is understandable that such a meeting would be labeled as insider baseball. Neither Hamas nor Turkey have had much of an impact on Western politics. Neither of them has perpetrated deeds large enough to catch our attention these past many months. But not covering what is truly a seminal event demonstrates just how little mainstream media understands the Middle East.
This meeting has huge global implications.
The most significant result of this meeting between true haters of the West – actually, dictionary definition haters of all that the Western world embodies and holds dear, is that, according to the Jerusalem Post and Reuters, these Hamas leaders and other Hamas terrorist leaders not even present at the meeting, were issued Turkish passports.
Let that sink in. Those documents, official and legal documents issued by the government of Turkey, will allow these terror leaders to travel freely throughout the world – especially Europe, raising money to murder innocents.
The United States government understands fully the impact of that meeting. And the United States is not at all pleased. When the U.S. State Department issued a statement of public criticism of Turkey, Turkey immediately rejected the comments. And that’s par for the course.
The United States and many other Western allies consider Hamas to be a terrorist organization. And according to the State Department statement, Hamas officials were “Specially Designated Global Terrorists” and the United States was seeking information about one member of the delegation for his involvement in multiple terrorist attacks, hijackings and kidnappings.
Washington is of the opinion that Erdogan’s meeting with Hamas leaders will hurt not only the West, but will also hurt Palestinians. The United States believes that supporting Hamas over the Palestinian Authority is a mistake.
So, why did the Turkish President Erdogan host a full delegation from Hamas? Turkey and Hamas are now diabolical and kindred spirits. Turkey, which has for a long time supported Hamas both financially and politically, has become a sponsor of terror. And not just a small, on the sidelines, wannabe sponsor of terror. The Erdogan government has maneuvered itself into a position parallel to Iran in joining forces with those who oppose the West, especially the United States and Israel.
That’s unnerving, but not surprising to those with a deep understanding of the Middle East.
Present at the meeting with Erdogan were Hamas leader Ismayel Hanyieh as well as Hamas military wing founder Saleh al-Arouri – the Hamas member singled out as wanted by the U.S. government in the State Department statement. Also there were the head of Hamas’ foreign branch Maher Salah and the group’s representative in Turkey, Jihad Yaghmor.
The group went to Turkey to report on the Palestinian situation. The two main topics discussed were Israel’s plan to annex the West Bank and the Abraham Accord which is the peace accord between the United Arab Emirates and Israel.
Interestingly, the Palestinians are still burning about the Israel annexation plan despite the fact that it was shelved by the UAE accord. In fact, Turkey, Iran, Hamas and the Palestinian Authority are among the only voices to have come out in condemnation of the Accord.
Hamas needs Turkish monetary support and aid. They need Turkey to do what Iran cannot do for them anymore. They need donors. Bottom line, Hamas needs Turkey to open doors for them.
Over the past few years Turkey has been forging its place as a bullwark against the West. First Turkey created excellent relations with Iran. Now, given that Iran has been sidelined because of economic sanctions, Turkey has stepped right up to the plate and is usurping some of Iran’s traditional roles, often with the blessing of Iranian leadership. Vanquishing the West is so important to Iranian leadership, they are even willing to share the spotlight.
Turkey is filling the void not only for Hamas, but also in Syria. There are two criteria for success in the shared world view of Turkey and Iran. First is successful support of Muslims. Second is hurting the United States and Israel.
Turkey and Israel have a rocky relationship. Their commercial and economic ties are very good, but their diplomatic ties are not. While their military ties were once exceptional, today they are non-existent. Tensions came to a head in the summer of 2016 when a Turkish flotilla attempted to break Israel’s sea blockage of Gaza. Israeli commandos boarded the ship, named the Mavi Marmara. Nine people on board were killed and 10 commandos were injured.
And then, while they still maintain diplomatic ties, in 2018 Turkey and Israel expelled each other’s ambassadors. Tensions have been at a rolling boil for years as Turkish President Erdogan moves further and further into his role as Islamist leader. Among his proudest achievements is ousting the secular, pro-Western military caste that secured and stabilized Turkey from extremist tendencies of Islamic leadership.
Turkey is on the wrong side of international behavior. This meeting with Hamas makes that point even louder and more clear. It behooves us to pay attention to thar roar.
Micah Halpern is a political and foreign affairs commentator. He founded “The Micah Report” and hosts “Thinking Out Loud with Micah Halpern” a weekly TV program and “My Chopp” a daily radio spot. A dynamic speaker, he specializes in analyzing world events and evaluating their relevance and impact. Follow him on Twitter @MicahHalpern. Read Micah Halpern’s Reports — More Here.
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