Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has identified the source of the Middle East’s problems: meddling Westerners, eager for Muslim money, won’t let the region sort its own issues out. Hurriyet Daily News reports:
“Only we can solve our problems. I speak openly; foreigners love oil, gold, diamonds, and the cheap labor force of the Islamic world. They like the conflicts, fights and quarrels of the Middle East. Believe me, they don’t like us,” said Erdoğan during an address to the Standing Committee for Economic and Commercial Cooperation of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (COMCEC) in Istanbul.“They look like friends, but they want us dead, they like seeing our children die. How long will we stand that fact?” he added.Erdoğan said Middle Eastern countries could solve their problems by themselves without any help from the West.
We imagine the West would not be nearly so opposed to the Middle East doing that as Erdogan thinks. In fact, that wish was essentially the foundation of U.S. policy from 2008 until this year, when certain flaws in the plan became apparent.Erdogan’s language will probably play well domestically in Turkey, a country where, as a Pew survey recently showed, Turks have a low opinion of more or less all peoples aside from themselves. Viewed in that light, Erdogan’s comments on solidarity may have some neo-Ottoman overtones; this is, after all, a man who just barely obliquely referred to himself as a Sultan.Yet this xenophobia makes a toxic stew when combined with the conspiratorial elements that crowd Erdogan’s speeches. Yesterday, for instance, in addition to his remarks on Western cupidity, he defended staunchly his contention that Muslims had preceded Columbus in discovering America.Between the bluster and the public conspiracy theorizing, it’s hard to escape the conclusion Erdogan is starting to sound more and more like Hugo Chavez. The only problem is, Hugo Chavez didn’t command a NATO country in one of the world’s hottest trouble spots.