A happy day gets happier. The pretense that the U.S. and an increasingly Islamist, illiberal Turkey have a long-term future as allies gets thinner month by month. This guy demagoging the embassy move to pander to his own constituencies at home and abroad was as predictable as Hamas demagoging it. Showing his ass to Trump this way *might* accelerate the coming rupture in diplomatic relations, which will be painful in important ways. But all divorces are painful, even when they’re inevitable.
Then again, never underestimate POTUS’s admiration for fellow strongmen. If Erdogan’s Islamism bothered him that much, he never would have dialed him up after his power grab last year to congratulate him.
I hope and expect we’ll be recalling our ambassador too if this tantrum lasts more than a few days.
Turkey is recalling its ambassadors to the US and Israel in an official protest of the Trump administration’s decision to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency, citing Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag, said the envoys were being called back, the report was confirmed by the Turkish embassy in Washington.
Asked how long the recall would last, a spokesperson for the Turkish Embassy said “we don’t know at this stage” adding that the US ambassador was recalled for “consultations.”
Karol Markowicz, who’s not much of a Trump fan, makes a fair point about the embassy:
But no Generic Republican moves the embassy to Jerusalem, no matter how pro-Israel that Generic Republican might be. That’s all Trump and only Trump. And I commend him for it today.
— Karol Markowicz (@karol) May 14, 2018
I’m inclined to agree. Certainly no establishment 2016 Republican would have risked a blow-up between Israel and the Palestinians by moving the embassy. It was a subject of perennial lip service by Republican candidates and perennial neglect by Republican presidents for all the usual reasons. There’s always some half-baked “peace process” plan floating around that would be jeopardized by an embassy move. The move would alienate allies, including and especially our nominal ally in Turkey. The parade of horribles that might result, beginning with another intifada, is simply too horrible to flirt with. It’s unimaginable that a Marco Rubio, let alone a Jeb Bush or John Kasich, would have insisted upon it.
The Cruz Crew will tell you that Cruz certainly would have followed through, as he promised to do many times. Eh. *If* there was another Republican in the field who might have done this, Cruz is it. But Cruz is also a cautious, calculating politician and moving the embassy doesn’t involve much caution or have an obvious calculated purpose. It’s more of a moral statement: We recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and we’re not going to let Muslim sensitivities stop us from acknowledging it. I think Cruz would do it if you could show him in concrete terms how the U.S. would gain on balance from doing it. But that’s just it — the argument has always been that it’ll do more harm than good for everyone involved. Trump’s probably the only Republican with the bravado, or the foolhardiness, to follow through. In fact, Markowicz’s point is probably a key reason. No other Republican would have the stones to do it, and Trump knows it. Therefore it must be done.
Here’s a minute of the sultan in fine form, ranting about Israel as a “terror state” that’s perpetrating a “genocide.” It’s very old-school, shall we say: The trend among other Sunni leaders as fears of Iranian expansionism grow is in the opposite direction, towards warmer relations with Israel. The Israelis, by bloodying Iran’s nose in Syria lately, are doing the Sunnis’ dirty work for them. Erdogan sees an opportunity to fill that vacuum of leadership among the many millions of Jew-haters in Sunni countries who see Israel as a greater enemy than Iran. So he’s seizing it.