A few weeks ago Barry Rubin wrote an excellent column making a point that hadn’t occurred to me, but that was obviously true. Rubin observed that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is Obama’s favorite Middle East leader:
For the first time in forty years, Israel is not the American president’s favorite Middle Eastern ally. Instead, that role is played by Turkey’s government.
This would not be such a bad thing if we were talking about the “old” Turkey, the secular republic. Unfortunately, President Barack Obama’s favorite advisor among the regional leaders is Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Pretend all you want but Obama really dislikes—hates?—Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and truth be told Netanyahu has done nothing to deserve that treatment.
So what’s wrong with that? Rubin commented:
The fundamental problem with Erdogan is despite being embraced by the United States, he is an enemy of the United States, the West more generally, and Israel. He is on the side of radical, anti-American Islamists who want to wipe Israel off the map. So angry and passionate is Erdogan’s loathing of Israel that the leader of the opposition mockingly but pointedly asked if the prime minister wanted to go to war with the Jewish state.
How obvious should this massive change be? Let me sum it up in one sentence: A few years ago Turkey was an ally of Israel. Now it is an ally of Hamas.
Rubin adds a little later in the column: “[W]hat is truly bizarre about Obama’s judgment is that Erdogan has done little beneficial to the United States and a number of things detrimental to it…” Please read the whole thing.
I saved Rubin’s column in a tab to come back to at the appropriate time. Josh Rogin’s Foreign Policy post makes this the time:
[I]n an interview with Time’s Fareed Zakaria, Obama named his international BFFs and the surprising list includes: German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, and British Prime Minister David Cameron.
I’d love to know what these Cameron and Merkel think of Obama, but I think we can make a pretty good guess what Erdogan thinks of him. Let’s just say he thinks him useful.