The Gaza flotilla incident is not over. American demands for some “international role” in investigating Israel's conduct (but not, it seems, Turkey's) and for a new system of getting humanitarian aid to Gaza will be imposed on Israel one way or another before the episode will be behind us. But however they play out, this incident clarified several major trends in the region—all of which are dangerous for the United States and for our allies in the Middle East.
First, it's obvious that our formerly reliable NATO ally Turkey has become a staunch supporter of the radical camp. In the flotilla incident, it not only sided with but also sought to strengthen the terrorist group Hamas—a group that is anathema not just to the United States and Israel, but to the governments of Jordan and Egypt. The recent photo of Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Bashar Assad in Damascus is an emblem of this change, and Turkey's work to undermine U.N. sanctions against Iran shows its substance. Turkey's U.N. Security Council vote against the newest round of sanctions this past week put it in Iran's camp against Europe, the United States, Russia, and China. That's quite a realignment for a NATO ally.
Perhaps even worse is Turkey's push to turn the Israeli-Palestinian conflict into a religious war. A column in the leading Istanbul newspaper Hurriyet well described the new Turkey:
As for the images from Turkey that were reflected across the globe following last week's incident, it was a purely Islamic one, with headscarved and turbaned protestors chanting Islamic slogans under Islamic banners, and invoking the name of Allah for days on end in front of Israeli missions in this country.