As Turks demonstrate in the streets over the deaths of some Turks on the flotilla, even rioting over it, their government has recalled its ambassador from Israel and canceled planned joint military exercises. Israel has not made the usual tit-for-tat diplomatic reaction.
Turkey expects the flotilla activists to be released immediately and for Israel to apologize. Turkey denies responsibility for what Turkish citizens did privately. A columnist for the Turkish daily, Milliyet, claims that the government could have prevented the flotilla from sailing.
Turkey “has long been Israel’s closest friend in the Muslim world…” Israel and the U.S. use Turkish airspace for military exercises. The regime in Turkey is headed by Recep Erdogan, “former Islamist who is the driving force behind Turkey’s criticism of Israel…” and is “serving as mediator between Israel and Syria. But the US has not appreciated all his efforts, like his recent attempt with Brazil to broker a nuclear deal with Iran.” Erdogan sees Hamas as “democratically elected.” He is pushing for international condemnation of Israel.
PM Erdogan called the Israeli raid on the flotilla “inhuman state terrorism” and Israel’s claim of weapons being aboard, “lies.” The raid shows him that “the Israeli government has no desire for peace in the region.” (Sabrina Tavernese, NY Times, 6/1, A10).
The difficulty with releasing all the activists not charged with criminal violence is that at the approach of Israeli forces, they were ordered to throw their passports overboard (Winston Mid East Analysis and Report, 6/1).
One has to admire Erdogan’s instant and omniscient knowledge that no weapons were aboard the ships.
The background description sprinkled throughout the New York Times report seems like an obsolete P.R. job for Erdogan. Turkey canceled military exercises before. Calling Turkey Israel’s “closest friend in the Muslim world” implies Israel has others. Would they please name the others? Referring to Turkey, which has made an alliance with Iran and Syria, and which supports Hamas, as a “friend,” is obsolete. The newspaper does not want to acknowledge that Erdogan, who verbally renounced Islamism, subverts Turkish society to be Islamist and carries out an Islamist foreign policy (as some of my articles documented). However, he does not totally burn bridges with Israel, from which he wants to buy some specialized weapons. Being allied with Syria, his offering to mediate between it and Israel fails the test of “honest broker.”
Calling Hamas “democratically elected,” is dubious enough without being put to the improper use of implying that it is democratic, now. Ask purged members of Fatah or repressed women in Gaza.
The raid on the flotilla does not show a rejection of peace. The flotilla was to set precedent for Turkey to build a deep water port in Gaza, unhindered. Heavy arms would be brought in. Arms for Hamas means war on Israel. Since Hamas rejects peace, so, in effect, do those who assist it.