The Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security

Dr. Hay Eytan Cohen Yanarocak: When Erdoğan lashes out, whether it be against Armenia, via military assistance to Azerbaijan, against Greece or by verbal attacks on Israel, we know that he is talking to his electoral base.

The Jerusalem Post 03.10.2020

By TOBIAS SIEGAL  

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan opened the Turkish parliament’s legislative session on Thursday with a long speech that addressed the city of Jerusalem and the Palestinian people, in which he stated: “Jerusalem is our city.”

Erdoğan referred to the Ottoman Empire’s rule over Jerusalem, which lasted four centuries (1517-1917), to justify his claim.

“In this city, which we had to leave in tears during the First World War, it is still possible to come across traces of the Ottoman resistance. So Jerusalem is our city, a city from us,” Erdoğan said.

Erdoğan mentioned that Jerusalem’s walls that still stand today, as well as the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem’s Old City, were reconstructed and restored by Suleiman the Magnificent, who reigned over the Ottoman Empire from 1520 until his death in 1566.

“The issue of Jerusalem is not an ordinary geopolitical problem for us,” Erdoğan said. “First of all, the current appearance of the Old City, which is the heart of Jerusalem, was built by Suleiman the Magnificent, with its walls, bazaar, and many buildings. Our ancestors showed their respect for centuries by keeping this city in high esteem.”

Suleiman the Magnificent was known for protecting the Jewish subjects of his empire through unprecedented reforms at the time, and is believed to have had a Jewish mother.

Erdoğan then moved to address the Palestinian issue, stating that “we consider it an honor on behalf of our country and nation to express the rights of the oppressed Palestinian people on every platform, with whom we have lived for centuries.”

“With this understanding, we will follow both the Palestinian cause, which is the bleeding wound of the global conscience, and the Jerusalem case to the end,” he concluded.

Dr. Hay Eytan Cohen Yanarocak, an expert on contemporary Turkish politics, foreign policy and Turkish-Israeli relations at the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security, told Israel Hayom that Erdoğan’s speech had an internal, political agenda, more than a practical one.

“In the broad sense of his speech, Erdoğan referred to three major countries – Greece, Armenia and Israel – and not by accident,” Yanarocak noted. “The common denominator of these countries is the fact that they are nation-states composed of the main minorities that existed in the Ottoman Empire and in today’s Republic of Turkey.

“When Erdoğan lashes out, whether it be against Armenia, via military assistance to Azerbaijan, against Greece or by verbal attacks on Israel, we know that he is translating all of these steps towards electoral success,” Yanarocak said. “It’s not just about supporting the Palestinians, but about defining the way that the Turkish majority perceives minorities within the country, and how that perspective is reflected in Erdoğan’s foreign policy.”

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