True Allegiances Emerge

Crises can be clarifying. The 9/11 attacks were one such moment. The world’s reaction exposed America’s true friends. As President George W. Bush said at the time, “either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.” The world faces another such morally and strategically clarifying crisis: the barbaric 10/7 attack on Israel by Iranian-backed Hamas terrorists.

From now on, the world can be separated between those who condemn this act of true evil, the worst attack against Jews since the Holocaust, and the terrorist sympathizers who cannot do more than equivocate between genocidal savages and the innocent people they killed. And, unfortunately, too many countries in the broader Middle East that the United States calls partners have shown themselves to fall in the latter category.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, throughout his more than 20 years in office, has been a political chameleon, happy to make alliances with whomever he needed to stay in power, be they Islamists, Kurds, or ultra-nationalists. But he always shows his true colors when it comes to Hamas. Erdogan has met multiple times with Hamas leader Khaled Meshal and invited the group’s leadership to reside in Turkey. On Sunday, the day after Hamas launched its terrorist assault on Israel, Erdogan declared, “It’s our responsibility to stand with the oppressed.” Since then, he has gone on to call Israeli self-defense operations “devoid of any ethical foundation” and claimed US troops moving to the region would commit “serious massacres” in Gaza.

The Biden administration should impose clear consequences for such rhetoric by a NATO ally. For example, it should condition the sale of new F-16s to Turkey on it expelling and condemning Hamas. The United States should also continue upgrading the security relationship with Greece. The Greeks, incidentally, responded correctly. As Greek Defense Minister Nikos Dendias said, “Hamas’ barbaric attack directly violates the core principles that NATO must uphold, including human rights, human dignity, and security. Every member-country in the Alliance should express a clear and unwavering stance on this matter.”

Other states sympathetic to Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood have made statements no less grotesque than Turkey’s. Qatar declared that it “holds Israel solely responsible” for Hamas’ savagery. The Biden administration should inform Qatar that the future bilateral relationship will depend on Qatar’s successfully pressing Hamas to release the 200 hostages the terrorists abducted from Israel, and kicking Hamas leaders out of its country.

Disappointingly, even some American partners who oppose Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood have sought to blame Israel for Hamas’ crimes. Saudi Arabia highlighted “its repeated warnings of the dangers of the explosion of the situation as a result of the continuation of the occupation, the deprivation of the Palestinian people of their legitimate rights, and the repetition of systematic provocations against its sanctities.” President Biden should press Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman, who seems keen to normalize relations with Israel, to issue a better statement, if for no other reason than to help improve Saudi support in Congress for a US-Saudi mutual defense treaty.

Just as the United Arab Emirates did. The UAE initially called for “utmost restraint and an immediate ceasefire in order to avoid serious repercussions.” But it at least updated it by recognizing that “attacks by Hamas against Israeli towns and villages near the Gaza Strip, including the firing of thousands of rockets at population centers, are a serious and grave escalation.”

How countries respond to the 10/7 barbaric attack against Israelis reveals their true allegiances. President Biden, who has responded very well since the attacks, should follow what US Ambassador Nikki Haley once told the United Nations, “the US will be taking names.”

Michael Makovsky, a former Pentagon official, is president and CEO of the Jewish Institute for National Security of America. Blaise Misztal is JINSA’s vice president for policy.

Originally Published in eKathimerini.