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Why The West Says Nothing About Erdogan's Pro-Hamas Rhetoric

The Turkish president praises the Hamas terrorists as "freedom fighters" and NATO says nothing. This is a snapshot of realpolitik at 360 degrees — starting with Erdogan.

photo of Erdogan speaking with a palestinian flag

Erdogan at an Oct. 28 rally in Istanbul in support of Palestine.

Tolga Uluturk/ZUMA
Christoph B. Schiltz


BERLIN — It is hard to bear that the leader of a key NATO country like Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, praises the Hamas terrorists as "freedom fighters" — while accusing the Israelis of committing "war crimes" in Gaza "in a state of madness."

How much longer will NATO put up with Erdogan? Why is the alliance still tolerating his antics?

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The answer is simple: the world's largest defense alliance is powerless to do otherwise. Even if it were possible to kick Turkey out of NATO, no member state — except Greece — would support that. Why? Erdogan is simply far too important for security in Europe and as an ally of NATO countries in the Middle East and Africa.

Paradox in Ankara

Erdogan can rightly be accused of his opportunistic seesaw policy between rogue states and the free world. The same goes for his help for Russia in circumventing European Union sanctions, his application for membership in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which also includes Russia, China and Iran, and the purchase of a Russian mobile air defense system.

Ankara also shares key intelligence with Washington on Russia and Iran.

And yet there's also a recurring paradox with Ankara, which has supplied Ukraine with weapons earlier than any other NATO country, restricted access for Russian ships to the Black Sea because of the Ukraine war, brokered grain deals between Kyiv and Moscow, and prevented the internationally-recognized government in Libya from giving up under rebel pressure.

Ankara also shares key intelligence with Washington on Russia and Iran. Last but not least, Turkey hosts a NATO headquarters, two air bases, and a key alliance early warning radar system.

In Turkey, it should be noted, there is currently a contest between the opposition and the government to see who will attack Israel most fiercely. Thus, there is also a clear domestic politics calculation that drives Erdogan's fierce criticism of Israel.

And none of that, no matter what happens in Gaza, is likely to prevent him from negotiating with Israel on the construction of a gas pipeline. That will happen in the near future, more quietly no doubt.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Putin's "Pig-Like" Latvia Threat Is A Chilling Reminder Of What's At Stake In Ukraine

In the Ukraine war, Russia's military spending is as high as ever. Now the West is alarmed because the Kremlin leader is indirectly hinting at a possible attack on Latvia, a NATO member. It is a reminder of a growing danger to Europe.

Photo of Russian President Vladimir Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin

Pavel Lokshin


BERLIN — Russian President Vladimir Putin sometimes chooses downright bizarre occasions to launch his threats against the West. It was at Monday's meeting of the Russian Human Rights Council, where Putin expressed a new, deep concern. It was not of course about the human rights of the thousands of political prisoners in his own country, but about the Russian population living in neighboring Latvia, which happens to be a NATO member, having to take language tests.

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