News / Middle East

    Gaza Crisis Strains US-Turkey Relations

    Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses a meeting of Muslim religious leaders from Europe and Asia, in Istanbul, Turkey, Nov. 19. 2012.
    Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses a meeting of Muslim religious leaders from Europe and Asia, in Istanbul, Turkey, Nov. 19. 2012.
    Dorian Jones
    The deepening crisis over Gaza is straining Turkish-U.S. relations, with Ankara calling on Washington to rein in Israel.

    While addressing a conference in Istanbul Monday, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan launched a strong attack against Israel for its ongoing military operation in Gaza.

    He says those who associate Islam with terrorism close their eyes in the face of mass killing of Muslims, and turn their heads from the massacre of children in Gaza. The prime minister went on to say "For this reason, I say that Israel is a terrorist state, and its acts are terrorist acts."

    Erdogan made similar statements during a visit to Cairo last week.

    U.S. President Barack Obama has strongly defended Israel in connection with its operations against Gaza, citing its right to self-defense.

    Some political observers in Turkey say the opposing views of the two leaders could hurt their relationship.

    But Sinan Ulgen, head of the Istanbul-based international relations research institute Edam, says it is important to look beyond the rhetoric of the prime minister.

    "At the rhetorical level, the Turkish prime minister has used this opportunity to reiterate his criticism of Israel, but at the same time Turkey has been one of the countries, along with Egypt and Qatar, to join the Hamas leadership to talk about the future of the region and how this crisis can be overcome," said Ulgen.

    Analysts say a strong relationship has developed between the U.S. president and the Turkish prime minister, with the leaders in regular contact - in particular about the conflict in Syria. Both support the opposition over Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

    But Erdogan, along with strongly criticizing Israel, has also made thinly veiled attacks against Washington and the European Union for what he says are their failure to rein in the Israelis.

    Diplomatic correspondent Semih Idiz of the Turkish newspaper Milliyet says that such close ties between the U.S. and Turkish leaders had led to hopes that Washington would take a more neutral stance towards Israel in connection with Gaza.

    "A very deep disappointment, there is no doubt about that. They would have expected some balanced remarks to come out from Obama. This only bolsters this notion when it comes to the Middle East - America's foreign policy is being drawn in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, rather than in Washington," said Idiz. "But on the other hand, Turkey and America are much involved in the Syria debacle at the moment, so they will not want to allow the situation with Israel to go beyond a certain limit. So this is very contingent on what Israel does in Gaza."

    For now, both sides appear to be accommodating the differing views on the Gaza conflict. But a deepening of the crisis or even a prolonged continuation of it will threaten to hurt future relations between Turkey and the United States, according to international relations analyst Ulgen.

    "If Ankara continues with its rhetoric, then that might be a problem for the U.S.-Turkish relationship because obviously the U.S. administration would also come under immense pressure to criticizing the Turkish position," he said. "However, any potential risk of a crisis between Turkey and the U.S. on Gaza can be mitigated if Ankara is able to push Hamas in the direction of conciliation and in the direction of stopping the aggression. And that is what Turkish diplomacy is striving for at the moment."

    On Tuesday, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu is due to visit Gaza as part of an Arab League initiative. Ankara is pushing for an immediate truce. Davutoglu is predicted to echo Erdogan's tough rhetoric against Israel. But behind the scenes he is expected to work hard to find a solution to the deepening crisis.

    You May Like

    Hope Remains for Rio Olympic Games, Despite Woes

    Facing a host of problems, Rio prepares for holding the games but experts say some risks, like Zika, may not be as grave as initially thought

    IS Use of Social Media to Recruit, Radicalize Still a Top Threat to US

    Despite military gains against IS in Iraq and Syria, their internet propaganda still commands an audience; US officials see 'the most complex challenge that the federal government and industry face'

    ‘Time Is Now’ to Save Africa’s Animals From Poachers, Activist Says

    During Zimbabwe visit, African Wildlife Foundation President Kaddu Sebunya says poaching hurts Africa as slave trade once did

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolatei
    X
    July 29, 2016 4:02 PM
    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolate

    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Tesla Opens Battery-Producing Gigafactory

    Two years after starting to produce electric cars, U.S. car maker Tesla Motors has opened the first part of its huge battery manufacturing plant, which will eventually cover more than a square kilometer. Situated close to Reno, Nevada, the so-called Gigafactory will eventually produce more lithium-ion batteries than were made worldwide in 2013. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Polio-affected Afghan Student Fulfilling Her Dreams in America

    Afghanistan is one of only two countries in the world where children still get infected by polio. The other is Pakistan. Mahbooba Akhtarzada who is from Afghanistan, was disabled by polio, but has managed to overcome the obstacles caused by this crippling disease. VOA's Zheela Nasari caught up with Akhtarzada and brings us this report narrated by Bronwyn Benito.
    Video

    Video Hillary Clinton Promises to Build a 'Better Tomorrow'

    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton urged voters Thursday not to give in to the politics of fear. She vowed to unite the country and move it forward if elected in November. Clinton formally accepted the Democratic Party's nomination at its national convention in Philadelphia. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more.
    Video

    Video Trump Tones Down Praise for Russia

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is toning down his compliments for Russia and Vladimir Putin as such rhetoric got him in trouble recently. After calling on Russia to find 30.000 missing emails from rival Hillary Clinton, Trump told reporters he doesn't know Putin and never called him a great leader, just one who's better than President Barack Obama. Putin has welcomed Trump's overtures, but, as Zlatica Hoke reports, ordinary Russians say they are not putting much faith in Trump.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora