How to Understand Gul’s Column

John, you brought up Turkish President Abdullah Gul’s column in The New York Times. I thought I’d provide some of the domestic political background that has obviously prompted him to this latest round of deflecting attention toward Israel during a moment of awkwardness at home–a longstanding pattern for the AKP, and one with a proven record of working.
If you’re in Turkey today, as I am, you’ll see headlines like this: Blood, Flames, Engulf Southeast Turkey as Clashes Continue. I explain why on Ricochet here. The so-called Kurdish opening, one of the AKP’s great claims to fame, was not supposed to end in scenes like this. And there’s a general election coming up on June 12. What to do? What everyone in this region does: lament the fate of the Palestinians.
The Turkish columnist Burak Bekdil gets it just right. To understand the joke, you have to know that Foreign Minister Davutoğlu is prone to saying that the region is on fire, and Turkey is the firefighter.

Borrowing Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu’s metaphor, Turkey these days looks like your willing but semi-sane neighbor appearing at everyone’s door in the neighborhood, always uninvited, dressed like a firefighter, holding a huge hose in his hand and smiling… Doors often slammed in his face, neighbors wondering how soon the man will give up offering his unwanted services. He looks weirder especially when he runs to one door after another, in his red uniform and holding his hose, even while his own house is on fire.
But according to Mr. Davutoğlu, “Turkey is a wise country reuniting a torn world!” It would have been much nicer if Mr. Davutoğlu and his government started their ambitious task by reuniting their torn country.

JOHN adds: Claire, thanks for that insightful perspective. I can understand why Gul and the Turkish government see “leadership” on this issue as a political winner. What is less clear to me is why the New York Times, and most of the American establishment, share the perspective of Turkey’s ruling party.


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