Germany’s Angela Merkel keeps Turkey at arm’s length

Turkey’s upcoming presidential election can also been seen as a preliminary vote on the future of its accession to the EU. While German-Turkish ties remain tense, it wasn’t long ago that things seemed to be promising.

    
Verhältnis Deutschland Türkei (picture-alliance/dpa/W. Kumm)

When Angela Merkel was first elected German chancellor in 2005, German-Turkish relations were still harmonious. On October 3, the European Union (EU) began accession negotiations with Turkey, with then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who had steered his country on course towards modernization, gladly taking part. Merkel praised the numerous reforms initiated by Turkey’s parliament at the time, including abolishing the death penalty, granting the Kurdish minority more rights and curtailing the power of Turkey’s generals. The country even undertook significant reforms relating to freedom of expression and the press in an effort to meet the EU’s humanitarian and civil rights standards.

Failure to appreciate Turkey’s reforms

Yet Turkey’s efforts were met with distance and rebuffed, argues Caner Aver, a project manager at Essen’s Center for Turkish Studies and Integration Research. “At the exact moment when Turkey was carrying out major reforms, German Chancellor Merkel began floating the idea of making Turkey a privileged EU partner rather than a full member.” Merkel’s plan to exclude Turkey from the bloc was an affront to all those who had worked tirelessly and passionately trying to get a progressive Turkey into the EU, says Aver. It also sparked speculation over whether some were simply trying to keep the EU a “Christian club,” he adds.

Read more: EU: Turkey’s membership hopes at an all-time low

Speaking at Dresden’s Frauenkirche in November 2006, Merkel addressed Turkish concerns, insisting that, “Europe is not a Christian club.” But she added that the EU does share certain common values. “We uphold human and civil rights, and those derive in large part from the teachings of Christianity.”

A few years later in 2010, Merkel assured Erdogan that Turkey’s accession talks would continue — though still adhering to her notion of establishing a strategic relationship with Turkey instead of granting full EU membership. And that has remained her position ever since.

Watch video02:57

Could Turkey join the EU?

From privileged partnership to none at all

In a report by the Study Committee on French-German Relations (Cerfa), Turkey experts Rosa Burc und Burak Copur argue Merkel’s instance on a privileged partnership, rather than full EU membership, partially explains why Turkey has largely turned its back on Europe in recent years — and make Germany partially responsible for this change. Both authors see Merkel’s policy as having failed, and, indeed, the warm relations between Germany and Turkey that characterized the period up until 2005 are a thing of the past.

But Turkey’s domestic politics have also played a part in the deteriorating relationship. The country is in the process of transforming itself into an authoritarian presidential system. A November 2015 report from the European Commission highlighted Turkey’s severe democratic deficits, shortcomings in the area of rule of law, and in terms of press freedom, which further strengthened Merkel’s resolve to keep Turkey at arm’s length.

Furthermore, after the failed coup in 2016, Turkey relentlessly persecuted dissidents, Kurds, journalists and human rights activists. The crackdown led the majority of EU parliamentarians to vote in November 2016 in favor of freezing accession talks. Now that populist parties have gained considerable influence in Europe, Turkey’s EU membership has become more unlikely still.

And Turkey has not refrained from antagonizing the EU, either, such as through Nazi rhetoric. As such, ties between Germany and Turkey are at an all-time low.
Andreas Maurer, a professor of politics and European studies at the University of Innsbruck, cautions against assuming Erdogan alone is the problem. He says that, “Turkey’s previous governments did not show much willingness to fully accept all EU rules and regulations, either.” Maurer thinks Merkel will be glad she never made any concrete promises to Turkey during her 13-year tenure. “What has helped keep the distance to Turkey is the fact that for 25 years, Turkey has continuously intervened militarily in southern states without legal backing.” And, he adds, as long as Turkey is engaged in a war of aggression in Syria, EU membership is simply out of the question.

Turkey expert Caner Aver disagrees. He says, “The identity of the EU will be shaped by how it addresses the prospect of Turkey’s membership.” At Turkey’s snap parliamentary and presidential elections on June 24, where Erdogan hopes to cement his grip on power, Turks will also make a preliminarily decision on the future of EU membership. If Erdogan is re-elected, the rift between the bloc and Turkey will likely grow deeper.

Watch video04:52

German Turks head to polls in Turkish election

COURTESY: DW

Palestinians Bury Their Dead After Clashes with Israeli Military

Israel defends its use of gunfire, saying it has the right to provide security for its people


Palestinian protesters look up at falling tear gas cannisters near the border with Israel in the southern Gaza Strip on Tuesday.
SAID KHATIB/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES
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Palestinians in Gaza began burying their dead Tuesday after violent clashes a day earlier left some 60 people dead, as Israel pushed back on international criticism over its use of gunfire by defending its right to secure its people.

The bloodshed at the protests, the deadliest in years, cast a cloud over a ceremony celebrating the new U.S. embassy in Jerusalem and has sparked calls for restraint. Officials in Gaza said that hospitals were overwhelmed, with many running out of essential supplies such as drugs to treat the injured.

About 2,700 people were hurt in the clashes, including more than 1,300 by live fire from the Israeli military, which also used tear gas and rubber bullets to push back Palestinians attempting to breach the fence dividing the Gaza Strip and Israel.

Clashes Over New U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem Leave Dozens Dead

Thousands of protesters were injured at the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel ahead of the opening of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem.

Some protesters burned tires, or used explosive devices, firebombs or flaming kites.

Israel says its military must use gunfire to prevent protesters from reaching nearby Israeli towns. The area near the fence was relatively quiet Tuesday, with Gaza health officials reporting one person killed, but Israeli officials said they were preparing to respond to more protests amid fears they could spread, especially as the holy month of Ramadan is expected to begin this week.

The United Nations Security Council was meeting Tuesday to discuss the violence in an emergency session requested by Kuwait, a U.S. partner in the Middle East.

The U.K. and France have also been particularly critical, with both directly expressing opposition to the embassy opening and the U.K. criticizing Israel’s use of live rounds and calling for an independent investigation. The Irish foreign ministry summoned the Israeli ambassador to express Ireland’s “shock and dismay” at the numbers of deaths and injuries, as Turkey temporarily expelled the Israeli ambassador and recalled its own.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday lashed out at President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, who has heavily criticized Israel, saying he was aligned with Gaza ruler Hamas.

“Erdogan is among Hamas’s biggest supporters and there is no doubt that he well understands terrorism and slaughter. I suggest that he not preach morality to us,” Mr. Netanyahu said.

The U.S. placed the blame with the Gaza rulers. “The responsibility for these tragic deaths rests squarely with Hamas,” Raj Shah, a White House spokesman, said Monday. “Israel has the right to defend itself.”

The bloodshed was a stark contrast to the ceremony celebrating the new U.S. embassy around 50 miles away, where Mr. Netanyahu and Trump administration officials called the opening a step toward peace. The Palestinians also claim Jerusalem for a future capital and had warned the U.S. against the move, saying it would derail any chance for a peace process.

Hamas has used a host of anniversaries to rally support for mass protests in the past month and a half. The Monday protests drew 40,000 Gaza residents at 12 points along the border fence.

Protest organizers had aimed to encourage tens of thousands to march Tuesday for what Palestinians call “Nakba Day” or “Day of the Catastrophe,” the anniversary of the day after the date of Israel’s founding. But there were no calls on loudspeakers for protests, unlike on Monday, when mosques in Gaza urged people to actively take part in the demonstrations and buses moved people from inside Gaza City to the border.

Protests, however, have in the past often picked up later in the day. There were some clashes in the West Bank as several thousand protesters gathered in the center of Ramallah and elsewhere.

On Monday, Israel’s military said warplanes carried out strikes on 11 Hamas targets in one of its compounds in the northern Gaza Strip. Israeli military tanks also targeted two Hamas posts in the north and south of Gaza.

Since March 30, Hamas has helped organize weekly protests and threatened to break through the border fence. Israel has responded with live fire, killing more than 100 people.

The death toll on Monday was the largest on a single day since the Israeli army fought a conflict with Hamas in 2014.

Mohamed Al Ashi, 22, was sharing a room with two others in Shifa hospital in Gaza. Mr. Ashi was hit in the leg, and one of his roommates was shot Monday, while the other was shot the Friday before.

Mr. Ashi said he was protesting near the fence with some friends when the soldiers starting shooting at them. “They should not have shot us. We did not even cross the fence,” he said.

Write to Felicia Schwartz at Felicia.Schwartz@wsj.com

COURTESY: WSJ

Turkey deploys special forces to Afrin, Syria in ‘preparation for new fight’

Turkey deploys special forces to Afrin, Syria in ‘preparation for new fight’
Ankara has sent police special forces units to the northern Syrian region of Afrin in anticipation of a new phase of its campaign against the Kurdish militias. It also says the UN-backed ceasefire does not affect its operation.

The special forces units crossed into Syrian territory from the southern Turkish provinces of Kilis and Hatay, local media reported. The new forces are expected to hold villages taken by Turkish troops from the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) as well as to take part in urban combat as Turkey’s Operation Olive Branch apparently moves from the countryside to the major settlements.

“Deploying special forces is part of the preparation for a new fight that is approaching,” Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag told Turkish NTV. “The fight will shift to places where there are civilians, as the area (of fighting) narrows,” he said, adding that the special forces units have experience in fighting militants in residential areas.

Even though the Turkish operation has entered its sixth week, most of the larger towns in the Kurdish-held enclave, including the city of Afrin itself, remain in the hands of the YPG. Still, Turkish forces drove the Kurdish militias from all areas bordering Turkey, local media report. On February 20, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that the troops would lay siege to Afrin “in the coming days.”

Operation Olive Branch will continue despite a UN Security Council resolution envisaging a 30-day nationwide ceasefire in Syria. The resolution, which was unanimously adopted by the security council on Saturday, says that the ceasefire does not apply to Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS), Al-Nusra, or any other terrorist organization.

Ankara believes this exemption applies to the Kurdish militias as well. “When we look at the UN Security Council resolution, we see that fight against terror organizations is outside its scope. Therefore, it will not affect Turkey’s ongoing operation,” Bozdag said, as cited by Anadolu news agency.

The Turkish military began its operation against the YPG, a Kurdish-led militia, as it considers it to be a wing of the PKK, an armed movement that Ankara regards as terrorist. The YPG, which controls several enclaves in northern Syria, including Afrin, secured the territories from Islamist rebels and other extremist groups over the course of the Syrian conflict with the US-led coalition’s backing.

The number of “terrorists” who were “neutralized” over the course of the operation has reached 2,059, the Turkish General Staff saidon Monday. Ankara also insists that the offensive is solely aimed at wiping out terrorists, denying allegations that it has targeted civilians.

The Turkish operation also increases tensions between Ankara and Damascus. The Syrian government has repeatedly condemned the operation as a violation of the country’s sovereignty and has accused Ankara of “aggression” against the Syrian people. Damascus also sent militias to Afrin to reinforce locals in their resistance against the Turkish onslaught.

This information was disputed by Ankara, which said the Syrian forces were prevented from entering the region. Erdogan also warned that the incoming militias would “pay a heavy price.”

Courtesy: RT

Ankara vows revenge as 7 Turkish soldiers killed in clashes near Syria’s Afrin

Ankara vows revenge as 7 Turkish soldiers killed in clashes near Syria’s Afrin
Seven Turkish soldiers were killed and a tank lost in Ankara’s ongoing military campaign against Kurdish militias in Syria’s northwestern Afrin region. The casualties marked the deadliest day for Turkey since the offensive began.

Five servicemen died in fighting near the settlement of Sheikh Haruz located north-east of Afrin, the Anadolu news agency reported, citing a statement issued by Turkey’s General Staff. The soldiers were killed as a Turkish tank came under attack, it said.

Earlier, the General Staff also reported about the death of two other Turkish soldiers. One was killed in clashes with local armed groups on Syrian territory, while another lost his life during an attack by what Ankara described as “terrorist groups” in Turkey’s Kilis province.

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim vowed retaliatory strikes. “They will pay for this twice as much. We have given the necessary response instantly, and we continue to do so,” he said, apparently referring to the Kurdish militias, Anadolu reports. Following the attack on the tank near Sheikh Haruz, Turkey launched airstrikes targeting shelters, hideouts and ammunition depots of local armed groups.

On Saturday, the Turkish General Staff said 899 fighters of the Syrian Kurdish militias – People’s Protection Units (YPG), Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants and Islamic State (IS, former ISIS/ISIL) terrorists – were “neutralized” since the launch of Operation Olive Branch. It added that 13 Turkish soldiers were killed and 57 wounded since the start of the operation.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey’s troops are closing in on Afrin’s city center as Operation Olive Branch entered its third week. “We are close,” he said Saturday at his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) congress in the eastern Turkish province of Bitlis.

Ankara is targeting the YPG, a Kurdish-led militia it considers a wing of the armed and banned PKK. The YPG controls several enclaves in northern Syria, including Afrin. It secured the territories from Islamist rebels and other extremist groups over the course of the Syrian conflict with crucial backing from the US-led coalition.

Ankara launched air strikes against Kurdish positions late in January, with its troops advancing into the Kurd-held territories. A number of Turkish towns and villages along the Syrian border have meanwhile been hit by rocket strikes.

Turkey claims it seeks to secure its borders by pushing back what it calls “terrorist groups.” The Syrian government, though, has condemned the Turkish operation and considers the incursion a violation of Syrian sovereignty.

An estimated 5,000 civilians were displaced during the first days of the military campaign, according to the UN. UNICEF said at least 23 children have been killed as a result of fighting in the Syrian provinces of Afrin, Idlib, Saraqab, Khan Shaykhoun and the capital Damascus. Local Kurdish sources maintain that 141 civilians were killed, Syria’s state news agency SANA reported.

COURTESY: RT

Muslim leaders declare ‘East Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Palestine’

A summit of Islamic nations has issued a unified response to counter the US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he was “not impressed” by the declaration.

Watch video02:23

Muslim nations back Palestinians

A final communique, agreed by delegates from all 57 members from the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on Wednesday, called on “all countries to recognize the State of Palestine and East Jerusalem as its occupied capital.”

Wednesday’s emergency summit in Istanbul, called by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, came in response to US President Donald Trump’s recognition last week of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Read more: Turkey and Israel: Animosity ends when it comes to money

Muslim leaders “rejected and condemned” Trump’s Jerusalem announcement, saying in the declaration that they considered it to be “null and void legally.” They also invited the US president to rescind the “unlawful decision that might trigger chaos in the region.”

Trump’s announcement was “a deliberate undermining of all peace efforts” that would give impetus to “extremism and terrorism,” the declaration said.

The White House said it is still committed to reaching peace in the Middle East , and will remain “hard at work putting together our plan, which will benefit the Israeli and Palestinian peoples.”

But Erdogan told delegates that Trump’s actions meant the US could no longer be an unbiased broker.

Watch video03:23

Erdogan calls for recognition of East Jerusalem as capital of Palestine – DW’s Dorian Jones

Netanyahu: ‘Not impressed’

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded later Wednesday, criticizing the Muslim leaders’ plea for countries to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine.

“We are not impressed by all these statements,” he said in a speech. “It is better for the Palestinians to recognize reality and act for peace, not for radicalization, and to recognize another fact about Jerusalem: not only is it the capital of Israel, we also maintain respect in Jerusalem for the freedom of worship for all religions.”

Erdogan’s decries Israeli ‘occupation’

Jerusalem’s status remains one of the core issues of the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Israel captured the predominantly Arab eastern part of the holy city during the 1967 Middle East war. Its claim to the entire city, which it sees as the ancient capital of the Jewish people, was never internationally recognized. Trump reversed that policy last week.

Erdogan at the OIC meeting (Reuters/K. Ozer)Erdogan called the meeting of OIC members

The US president’s decision on Jerusalem provoked worldwide condemnation from leaders, Arab and otherwise, and sparked violent protests across the Middle East, particularly in the Israeli-occupied territories Gaza and the West Bank. The Palestinians also lay claim to Jerusalem and have repeatedly insisted during peace negotiations that the eastern part of the city be the capital of their future state.

Speaking at the summit on Wednesday, Erdogan told delegates: “With this decision [by the US to recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital], Israel, which is responsible for occupation, blockade, unlawful settlements, home demolitions, evictions, land asset appropriations, disproportionate violence and murders, was rewarded for all its terrorist actions.”

The Turkish president, who has presented himself as a champion of the Palestinian cause, warned last week that US recognition of Jerusalem would plunge the world “into a fire with no end” and labeled Israel a “terrorist state.”

Last week’s clashes between Palestinian youths and with Israeli security forces led to two deaths among the protestors.

However, no state has yet announced any concrete measures against the US or Israel.

Watch video06:27

Israeli ambassador speaks to DW about Jerusalem

Abbas: UN should broker peace talks

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told OIC delegates that his people would refuse any role for the US in future peace talks following Trump’s declaration.

“We do not accept any role of the United States in the political process from now on because it is completely biased towards Israel,” Abbas said.

Abbas said Washington’s recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital as “the greatest crime” that showed it was no longer “fit” to broker talks. Instead, the Palestinian president said he wanted to see the United Nations taking charge of the peace process and the creation of a new mechanism.

Read more: US embassy move to Jerusalem could spark ‘third intifada’ Germany’s former ambassador says

Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, accused the United States of lacking any respect for the Palestinians and their rights to a nation. Arriving at the summit, Rouhani posted on Twitter that Trump’s move showed that the US was not “an honest mediator and will never be,” adding that Washington wanted only to “secure the interests of the Zionists.”

The recent decision by the US admin made it clear that the US is only seeking to secure the maximum interests of the Zionists and has no respect for the legitimate rights of Palestinians. The US has never been an honest mediator and will never be. 

Jordan’s King Abdullah II also warned that recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital was “dangerous and destabilizing decision.”

Jordan, which along with Egypt is one of only two Arab nations with diplomatic ties to Israel, stressed that “our region cannot enjoy peace without the two-state solution,” referring to the peace mechanism that would see Israelis and Palestinians granted their own separate state.

Uniting Arab opinion – an impossible task?

Turkey, however, faces the monumental task of bridging the Muslim political community, which includes regional rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Many close allies of the United States — including Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates — are unlikely to risk souring their relationship with Washington by endorsing an OIC statement condemning Israel.

Read more: Israel and Saudi Arabia: New best friends in the Middle East?

However, despite not attending the OIC summit, Saudi King Salman echoed calls from Istanbul that eastern Jerusalem be handed back to the Palestinians. Salman reportedly told the kingdom’s Consultative Council: “The kingdom has called for a political solution to resolve regional crises, foremost of which is the Palestinian issue and the restoration of the Palestinian people’s legitimate rights, including the right to establish their independent state with east Jerusalem as its capital.”

dm/sms (AP, Reuters, AFP, dpa)

COURTESY: DW

Erdogan slams Israel as ‘terrorist state’ that ‘kills children’

Erdogan slams Israel as ‘terrorist state’ that ‘kills children’
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out against Israel Sunday, calling it a ‘terrorist state’ that ‘kills children.’ Erdogan promised to fight to the bitter end against Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish state.

“Palestine is an innocent victim… as for Israel, it is a terrorist state, yes, terrorist!” Erdogan said at a congress of his ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) in the Turkish city of Sivas on Sunday. “We will not abandon Jerusalem to the mercy of a state that kills children,” he added.

As for the US decision to recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, despite the Palestinians viewing the eastern part of the city as the capital of its future sovereign state, Erdogan promised to use “all means to fight” it, according to AFP.

Violent clashes have continued in East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza for several days after Trump’s announcement on Wednesday. Two Palestinians were killed and over 1,000 people injured on Friday, with a further 230 wounded on Saturday, as Israeli security forces fired tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannon at the protesters.

Erdogan blasted Israel as an “oppressive, occupation state,”calling the response of the police and military to the protests “disproportionate,” Hurriyet reported.

“The US ignored a 1980 UN Security Council ruling regarding Jerusalem which the US itself signed at that time,”Erdogan said as cited by the Daily Sabah. “A system in which the stronger one is regarded as being right can’t constitute justice, peace and stability,” he said, adding that the American approach could lead to more tragedies.

In response to Erdogan’s remarks, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu retorted that that his Turkish counterpart was hardly one to talk.

“I’m not used to receiving lectures about morality from a leader who bombs Kurdish villages in his native Turkey, who jails journalists” said Netanyahu, adding that Erdogan “helps terrorists, including in Gaza, kill innocent people.”

“That is not the man who will lecture us.”

Trump’s announcement faced widespread international condemnation and was backed only by Israel, which has been pushing for Jerusalem to be recognized as its capital for decades. The leaders of France, Germany and other European nations have all agreed that the US move is dangerous and harmful to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, urging the US to abide by international agreements. The Arab League also rejected the American decision, saying on Saturday that it amounted to recognition of the illegal occupation of East Jerusalem by Israel, and ipso facto had no legal basis.

Courtesy: RT

Trump’s Jerusalem decision puts the Middle East on knife’s edge

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Arab leaders rebuke Trump’s Jerusalem decision 02:00

Wardah Khalid is an analyst, activist, and speaker on Middle East, refugee, and Muslim-American issues. Follow her on Twitter @wardahkhalid_. The views expressed in this commentary are her own.

(CNN)Donald Trump’s announcement, on recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and moving the US Embassy to the Holy City, appeared, at least on the surface, chiefly ceremonial.

His message provided no specifics on how it might bring peace to the Middle East and seemed aimed at appeasing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and supporters who voted him into office.
Wardah Khalid

But no ceremony can escape the very real, negative consequences that could transpire as a result of the shift in longstanding US policy, including a complete delegitimization of the US’s role in peace negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians, regional instability, and loss of key Arab and Muslim allies.
“While previous presidents have made this a major campaign promise, they failed to deliver. Today, I am delivering,” Trump said in a speech Wednesday afternoon.
But away from the public eye, he did the exact opposite. Trump quietly followed the example of recent US presidents and signed a waiver to keep the US Embassy in Tel Aviv for the next six months. And he will likely continue to do so for the foreseeable future, since an embassy move could take years.
So why the hullaballoo? Perhaps Trump thought the decision would be the best of both worlds — tough talk with little sacrifice and a means to support Israel and tacitly challenge Iran, much like his one off, unsuccessful airstrike in Syria.
However, international leaders are right to be concerned. This announcement essentially legitimizes Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem, which the international community unanimously rejected in UN Security Council Resolution 242. After the announcement was made, UN Ambassador Nikki Haleyinsisted that President Trump was not deciding who controlled the area, but the reality is hard to ignore.
Recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moving the US Embassy there will have a detrimental impact on Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations, a process that many suspect was never an honest priority for the US.
Perhaps most grave is the likely escalation of Israeli military occupation and settlement building on Palestinian land — a situation that would be completely contrary and detrimental to the peace process.
Enhanced occupation would continue decades of depriving Palestinian men, women, and children of basic human rights such as freedom of movement, access to resources, and freedom from cruel and degrading treatment.
Palestinian leaders have called for three days of demonstration in response. Gazans, Turks, and Jordanians have already taken to the streets in protest. It is not a stretch to fear tensions between Israelis and Palestinians will escalate as they did during the summer over metal detector installations at Al Aqsa. Nor is it unreasonable to worry about a full-blown third Intifada, which could result in numerous deaths on both sides. The State Department not only issued a travel warning for the area, but it also set up an emergency task forceto deal with the fallout that could result.
This is because the illegality of Israel’s occupation of Palestine is something that virtually the entire Muslim world agrees on.
Trump’s meddling in this is perilous for US foreign policy. In fact, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) — which consists of 57 Muslim and Arab member states — condemned“illegal” measures to impose Israeli authority over Jerusalem “given the grave consequences and threats this presents to international peace and security.”
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Many of the OIC’s members, including Egypt, Turkey, and Jordan, are allies in the fight against ISIS in Iraq and Syria and are home to US military bases, potentially endangering US military personnel. Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said that the recognition of Jerusalem would be a “red line” for Muslims and warned that Turkey could respond by cutting off diplomatic ties with Israel. Other countries could also follow suit.
US allies in Asia and Europe have also expressed concern, with eight countries — including France and the UK — requesting an emergency UN meeting. This is certainly not a good position for the US to be in.
History will determine the true impact of Trump’s decision. But breaking from the rest of the world in order to make good on a campaign promise is not symbolic — it is dangerous.
Courtesy: CNN