Turkish press targets Western political leaders who recently visited Israel as Erdogan gives green light to Sweden’s NATO membership
With a provocative front page and clear objectives, the Turkish newspaper Yeni Safak, which usually echoes Ankara’s views, publishes the photos of Western leaders who visited Israel after the Gaza tragedy (Soltz, Meloni, Biden, Macron, Sunak, Trudeau) under the title “The Executioners of Genocide”. At the bottom of the page is a photo of Palestinians holding their dead children.
The anti-Western climate holds well throughout Turkey and covers the entire political spectrum, not just the government side. President Erdogan insists on his plan to implement a peace formula that includes Turkey as a guarantor power. It is still unclear whether Ankara will be able to push through its plan and whether countries such as Qatar, which has already taken successful initiatives on the hostage issue, will agree to it.
“Green light” from Erdogan or blame shifting?
And while things in the Middle East region due to Gaza remain fluid and dangerous, the Turkish president, making another political pirouette, yesterday suddenly signed the protocol to approve Sweden’s accession to NATO. It is an issue on which he was constantly under pressure from both the Americans and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, with whom he even met recently. With this move, Erdogan on the one hand appears to be keeping his promises to the North Atlantic Alliance, while at the same time transferring the responsibility for the final decision to the Turkish National Assembly, which will have to ratify or vote against the protocol by a majority vote.
With anti-American sentiment in Turkey still high, many lawmakers could vote against the protocol. So there is no indication that the “Sweden Serial” will end anytime soon. There are plenty of funds until then, as Erdogan buys time to negotiate his country’s relations with the US, which are at a particularly low point. The course of Turkish-American relations is the issue par excellence that preoccupies Turkish foreign policy, and the next period will be critical.
But there is also the internal current affairs in Turkey, which is also of great importance for the Turkish president, as he will have to organize his party for the next showdown, the municipal elections at the end of January. One of his highest goals is to “win the City” held by the opposition alliance under Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu. The capture of the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality by a man of the Turkish president would be a great victory for the AKP after the humiliating defeat of 2019.
Meanwhile, tomorrow, Erdogan is expected to address his parliamentary group. How he will position himself against the war in Gaza, Israel and the USA, but also what statements he will make regarding the economy and internal developments will also signal the direction of his politics in the coming period. His speech on Saturday at the Great Rally for Palestine that will take place in Istanbul will also be of great importance. Beyond the international dimension, with the rally Erdogan aims to rally the Turkish voters as he did during the election campaign last May. This time, the drama of the Palestinians and “criminals of the West” may be a strong incentive for the citizens of the City to vote for their president’s candidate as the new mayor.
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