Tensions between Israel and Turkey ratcheted up again on Sunday when Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan suggested the Jews of Israel are the only genocidal group in the Middle East, while coming to the defense of wanted Sudanese President Hassan al-Bashir.
Speaking to members of his party, Erdogan insisted there is no genocide happening in Sudan's Darfur region, where over 300,000 people have been slaughtered by government-backed militias over the past six years. According to Erdogan, Bashir may have mismanaged the situation, but the international warrant for his arrest is a mistake.
"A Muslim can never commit genocide," Erdogan decalred. "It's not possible."
That is why the Turkish prime minister said he would have no problem meeting with Bashir, which he was scheduled to do this week before the Sudanese leader's trip was cancelled for fear of his arrest en route.
By contrast, Erdogan said he would have a very hard time sitting down for a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyhau. Erdogan has very publicly accused Israel of widespread war crimes and even genocidal intentions in the Gaza Strip and other Palestinian-controlled areas, severely straining relations between the two nations, which were previously regional allies.
Turkish officials have confirmed that the souring of relations between Israel and Turkey has a lot to do with Ankara's desire to strengthen ties to Iran.