Escalating tension between Syria and Turkey has exposed the blatant hypocrisy of Turkey's Islamist Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan when it comes to terrorism and a country's right to self-defense. Human rights lawyer Arsen Ostrovsky makes that clear in a column published Friday at the Algemeiner website.
Turkey has intercepted arms shipments headed for Damascus and even fired into Syrian territory last week after a mortar landed on Turkish soil killing five civilians. No one should doubt Turkey's resolve to protect its people, Erdoğan said.
"This situation has reached a stage that poses serious threats and risks to our national security," Erdoğan said. "Therefore, the need has developed to act rapidly and to take the necessary precautions against additional risks and threats that may be directed against our country."
That's understandable, Ostrovsky writes. But this forceful reply came after one mortar apparently missed its target and landed in Erdoğan's country. The same man all-but-severed diplomatic relations with Israel after Israel invaded Gaza in 2008 after 8,000 Hamas rockets had been aimed at Israeli civilian communities.
"Israel must pay a price for its aggression and crimes," Erdoğan said.
He continues to demand Israel apologize for storming a Turkish ship that tried to run Israel's blockade on Gaza, which is in place to try to deny Hamas with more weaponry. Nine people died after the passengers carried out an orchestrated attack on Israeli soldiers as they boarded the ship.
A United Nations report found the blockade was legal and "a legitimate security measure in order to prevent weapons from entering Gaza by sea."
But Erdoğan still called for sanctions. "Israel's cruelty … cannot be continued any longer," he told Time Magazine last year.
Erdoğan supports Hamas and the Turkish charity, IHH, which led the intercepted flotilla in 2010. But if Turkey is duty-bound to protect its people from outside attacks, so too is Israel, and Erdoğan ought to acknowledge that.
"Instead of demanding an Israeli apology over the Flotilla, it is Mr Erdoğan who is the one that should be apologizing to Israel for his entirely unjustified and vitriolic attacks in light of his government's recent actions," Ostrovsky writes. "Anything less, would be completely hypocritical."
Read the whole thing.