In a UN speech that blended Israel bashing and threats to settle Syrian refugees in mostly Kurdish areas of Syria, Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan laid out an increasingly nationalist agenda centered on a regional policy that is underpinned by obsession with Israel and increasing interest in occupying much of northern Syria.
Holding up a series of four maps, the Turkish leader sought to argue that Israel lacks borders and has been gobbling up Palestinian land. He then produced a second map of Syria where Turkey proposes to take over part of northern Syria and send mostly Syrian-Arab refugees into an area that is historically Kurdish.
In comments designed to inflame, Ankara's ruler asserted that the territory of Israel belongs to Palestinians and linked suffering in Gaza to the Holocaust. He attacked Israel for its policies in the West Bank and the Golan Heights.
Without any sense of irony, the Turkish leader then produced a map of northern Syria, where Turkey is engaging in a military occupation of Kurdish areas such as Afrin, and suggested that Turkey should now take over part of northern Syria the way Israel has taken over the Golan, to create a "safe zone."
Turkey has claimed in the past that it wants to forcibly re-settle millions of Syrians in various parts of northern Syria without regard to where those Syrians are from, and ignoring the rights of the local Kurdish people to have a say. Anadolu News in Turkey reported that Erdogan wants to take over a "corridor" in northern Syria that "will enable the resettlement of 3 million Syrians from Turkey, Europe and other countries if it is extended to the Deir ez-Zor/Raqqa line."
Seth Frantzman, a writing fellow at the Middle East Forum, is the author of After ISIS: America, Iran and the Struggle for the Middle East (2019), op-ed editor of The Jerusalem Post, and founder of the Middle East Center for Reporting and Analysis.