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

    California Republicans Mull Choices in Presidential Race

    Ted Cruz tells state's Republican Convention delegates campaign will be 'battle on the ground, district by district by district,' ahead of June 7 primary

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, many Kurds are trying to escape turmoil by focusing on success of football team Amedspor

    South African Company Designs Unique Solar Cooker

    Two-man team of solar power technologists introduces Sol4, hot plate that heats up so fast it’s like cooking with gas or electricity

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora