On October 29, Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan held a phone conversation, the content of which has been interpreted in different ways in Kazakhstan and Turkey.
Kazakhstani media reports on that occasion indicate that the Turkish leader offered condolences to the President of Kazakhstan and the whole people of Kazakhstan over the numerous human victims of the Kostenko coal mine explosion in the Karaganda region; that the two leaders reviewed the agenda of the 10th summit of the Organization of Turkic States to be held on November 3 in Astana; and that Kassym-Jomart Tokayev congratulated Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the whole people of Turkey on the 100th anniversary of the Republic of Turkey.
Turkish media’s vision of that event seems to be markedly different. This can be made clear by considering the following example.
In this regard, the Turkish newspaper Dogruhaber reports the following: “President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan discussed the Zionist occupation regime’s attacks on Palestine with the Kazakh President Tokayev.
The two leaders discussed the latest developments related to the [war] conflict in the occupied Palestinian territories, Turkey’s efforts to deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza, and the human rights violations of the occupation regime.
At that conversation, President Erdoğan stated that the summit of the Organization of Turkic States [to be held on November 3] in Astana should discuss the steps that can be taken to ensure a humanitarian ceasefire, to prevent the spread of conflicts, and especially to prevent the occupation regime’s violations of international law.
Our President Erdoğan also expressed her condolences to Tokayev regarding the mining accident that had occurred in the Karaganda region of Kazakhstan.”
And this is all that was said about the matter in this piece. Judging by what the Russian TASS agency wrote, the above report from the Dogruhaber newspaper is based on what the Turkish president’s office said in a statement about that phone conversation.
Hence the conclusion is that Mr. Erdogan appears determined to try to involve the leaders of other Turkic-speaking states in Ankara’s turning against Israel over Gaza at the 10th summit of the Organization of Turkic States to be held on November 3 in Astana.
If so, Kazakhstan, as the host nation of the summit and the Central Asian nation traditionally most supportive of the Turkish integration initiatives, would find itself in an embarrassing position with respect to the Western countries that primarily provide economic well-being to the country.
What is happening in Russia against the backdrop of developments in the Middle East?
A wave of demonstrations in support of Palestinians has gone across the Northern Caucasus over the last weekend.
One of these actions was held before Karachay-Cherkessia’s government building in Cherkessk on October 28. An official went out to meet with its participants and listen to them. Judging by a video published on social media on the same day, the talk between the protest action participants and the official was about not allowing visitors from Israel into the region and evicting those already living there. Among the demonstrators were many women. One of them challenged the official if he and the local authorities could evict [those visitors from abroad]. The official started saying that there was no legitimate way of doing such things. The woman, without hearing him out, said the following: “Is Palestine being exterminated by legal means?! They [the Palestinians] throw stones, while those [the Israelis] bombard them with rockets, is this normal?!”.
The Russian Kommersant newspaper reported that a Jewish center under construction in Nalchik, the capital of the nearby Russian republic of Kabardino-Balkaria, was set on fire on the same day.
The next day, on Sunday, October 30, hundreds of people stormed into the main airport in Russia’s Dagestan region and onto the landing field, chanting antisemitic slogans and seeking passengers arriving on a flight from Israel, Russian news agencies and social media reported.
In a statement Sunday night, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said Israel “expects the Russian law enforcement authorities to protect the safety of all Israeli citizens and Jews wherever they may be and to act resolutely against the rioters and against the wild incitement directed against Jews and Israelis”.
Russia’s Vladimir Putin called a meeting of security and law enforcement officials on Monday, October 30. The Russian president’s office referred to the incident as a ‘result of outside interference’ and as ‘attempts by the West to use the events in the Middle East to divide’ Russian society.
US National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby dismissed Vladimir Putin’s claims about who had triggered the weekend’s events as “classic Russian rhetoric” and said: “The West had nothing to do with this”.
Russia has the largest Muslim population in Europe. According to the latest data, it is known that Muslims in Russia numbered 20 million, or roughly 14 percent of the total population. Recognized under the law and by Russian political leaders as one of Russia’s traditional religions, Islam traditionally is part of Russian historical heritage. It is safe to assume that Russian Muslims constitute the bulk of the 20 percent of Russians who say they sympathize with the Palestinians.
By coincidence or not, last weekend’s wave of demonstrations in support of Palestinians in the Muslim regions of Russia was preceded by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s 27 October call on Turks to take part in a ‘Great Palestine Rally’ that “we will hold tomorrow (on Saturday, October 28) at Istanbul Atatürk Airport, where we will once again demonstrate our solidarity with our Palestinian brothers and sisters to the whole world”.
Either way, it appears that Erdogan’s rhetoric on the Israel-Palestine war resonates much stronger among Russia’s Muslims than that of Putin.