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

India PM Modi's Party Distances Itself From Religious Conversions

BJP under fire for being slow to rein in hardline affiliate groups allegedly trying to promote Hindu-dominant agenda by luring Muslims and Christians to convert More

Anti-Whaling Group Found in Contempt of Court

Radical environmentalists who threw acid and smoke bombs at Japanese whalers in the waters off Antarctica continue their campaign to disrupt Japan's annual whale hunt More

UN's Ban Urges End to Discrimination Against Ebola Workers

Ban was speaking in Guinea on the second day of a whistle-stop tour aimed at thanking healthcare workers of the countries at the heart of the epidemic More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid