News / Middle East

Abbas Seeks Support in Turkey

Turkey's President Abdullah Gul (background) and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (L) walk, at Ataturk Airport  in Istanbul, July 18, 2014.
Turkey's President Abdullah Gul (background) and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (L) walk, at Ataturk Airport in Istanbul, July 18, 2014.
Dorian Jones

The leader of the Palestinian Authority Mahmud Abbas is scheduled to visit Turkey Friday, amid an ongoing ground offensive by Israel in Gaza. The ruling AK Party has strong ties with Hamas, but is facing accusations of meddling in cease-fire efforts. Friday saw renewed protests in Turkey against Israel.

Palestinian authority leader Abbas’s visit to Turkey is part of a short tour of regional countries and is being seen as an effort to consolidate support for the Palestinians amid an ongoing offensive by Israeli forces in Gaza.

Semih Idiz, a diplomatic columnist for the Turkish newspaper Taraf and the Al Monitor website, says bbas will receive strong support from Ankara but says the Turkish government will keep Hamas informed of the meetings.

"He is wanting to appear to rally support for the Palestinians at a time like this," he said. "But as Mahmud Abbas is Ankara talking to Prime Minister Erdogan and President Gul we hear that Foreign Minister Davutoglu is on the phone to Khaled Meshaal the political leader of Hamas to reassure that talks with Abbas are not excluding Hamas."

Turkey’s ruling AK Party, which has its roots in Islamist politics, has close ties with the political Hamas leadership that controls Gaza. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been in the forefront of condemning Israel for its attack on Gaza. After attending Friday prayers he launched another verbal assault against Israel.

He says Israel is a country that threatens world peace. He told reporters it has never favored peace, Israel is committing genocide, adding the Western reaction might be different. But he says I have never tried to look sympathetic to dominant powers and I never will.

Observers point out, with Erdogan running for the presidency in August elections, such a tough stance is likely to play well with his religious grass roots supporters. In Istanbul thousands protested Israel after Friday prayers.

The protest follows similar large demonstrations on Thursday night against Israel’s diplomatic missions in Istanbul and Ankara. Despite the intervention by security forces, buildings sustained damage and drew a strong rebuke from Israel calling it a blatant breach of diplomatic regulations.

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman announced Israel is reducing its presence to a diplomatic minimum, with the withdrawal of diplomats and their families. Bilateral relations are already at an all time low, following the killing 4 years ago of 9 Turkish activists aboard a ship seeking to break an Israeli economic embargo of the Gaza strip. Distrust between the countries was underlined with Tel Aviv-backed by Cairo accusing Ankara of being behind Hamas rejecting a proposed cease-fire.

Diplomatic columnist Idiz says Ankara has done little about such accusations but says there may be unrealistic expectations over its influence.  

"There has been no official denial of the accusations, but some expected it could use some pressure on Hamas to stop it attacking Israel with these rockets," he said. "There is general assumption that it could have influence over Hamas. But things seem so out of hand that I don’t think any pressure from Turkey, or Qatar for that matter, which also has close ties with Hamas, could stop the crisis."

Ankara’s relations with Cairo remain strained since the overthrow of President Mohamed Morsi, a key ally of Erdogan. The Turkish Foreign Ministry, despite repeated attempts, refused to comment on Cairo’s accusations.

According to some reports, Abbas could call on Ankara to use its influence to persuade Hamas to soften its stance. But Erdogan has strongly condemned Arab leaders for failing to take a tougher stance against Israel. Observers warn regional rivalries are threatening to only complicate an already extremely difficult effort to bring an end to ongoing fighting.

You May Like

Multimedia Brussels Schools, Metro Reopen Under Heavy Guard

City remains under the highest threat alert level due to what authorities have described as a 'serious and imminent' threat of attack

Video Debt-ridden Refugees Await Onslaught of Lebanese Winter

Aid agencies are attempting to reduce potentially devastating consequences of freezing conditions and snowstorms that killed eight last year, including three Syrian refugees

Americans Think About Strange Stuff at Thanksgiving

Millions of Americans are celebrating Thanksgiving, but they’re not necessarily thinking about turkey and stuffing

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against ISi
November 24, 2015 3:04 AM
The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs