News / Europe

Turkey-Israel Relations Reassessed in the Wake of Flotilla Raid

David Dyar

For nearly two decades the alliance between Turkey and Israel has been a powerful partnership in the Middle East.  But the crisis over the Israeli security killing of aid workers delivering humanitarian goods to Palestinians in the Gaza Strip this week, analysts say, could change relations between the two countries. Analysts are examining whether Turkey might be on the verge of a major shift of alliances.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan accusing Israel of committing a bloody massacre on the high seas.

The sharp rhetoric stems from Monday's Israeli raid of an aid convoy headed for Gaza in defiance of an Israeli blockade.

Israeli commandos boarded a Turkish vessel leading the international convoy.  During the raid, nine aid workers were killed.

Turkish leaders say relations with Israel have been badly damaged and the prime minister says Israel is on the verge of losing its "best friend" in the region.

Political analyst Nuray Mert of Istanbul University says Turkey's tough words will not go over well in the Middle East. "In terms of leadership, they will feel resentful, of course, because, after all, in the eyes of Arab public opinion, they are collaborators.  And Turkey is the one who is advocating the rights of Palestine.  Arab leaders, they never actually want each other, let alone Turkey, to play this game," Mert said.

Mert says Mr. Erdogan is heaping further embarrassment on Egypt by pressing the international community to end the embargo against Gaza.  Egypt, along with Israel, enforces the embargo.  Observers say Cairo's secular leadership is deeply suspicious of the pro-Islamic Hamas leadership in Gaza.  But analysts say Turkey's government has no such concerns.  It won praise among large sections of Arab public opinion by inviting one of the leaders of Hamas, Khaled Meshaal, for talks in Ankara in 2006 after his party's victory in Gaza elections.

Turkish government adviser Gokhan Cetinsayar says that until now, Turks have been viewed with suspicion by many Arabs because the Middle East was once part of the Ottoman Empire. "In classical Arab nationalist discourse, Turkey is a negative actor in the region; [it] is the old imperialist power for Arab nationalists.  But new regional circumstances, new regional balances, allow Turkey to play such a role," he said.

Analysts say the Turkish prime minister appears to be trying to place himself in a role as a Middle East leader.  But, they say, this role appears to come at the cost of Turkey's relationship with Israel.

For nearly two decades, Turkey has built a strategic political and military alliance with Israel.  And in recent years, it has played a mediating role between Israel and other Middle East countries like Syria.  

But analyst Cengiz Aktar of Bahcesehir University says the present crisis has changed that. "Probably the worst casualty will [be] this -- peace and mediation efforts of Turkey, involving directly and indirectly Israel.  I think these peace and mediation efforts are dead forever.  And now, Turkey will appear 100 percent next to the Palestinians cause," he said.

Eight of the nine killed during the Israeli flotilla raid were Turks, which is increasing public pressure on Turkey's leaders to sever ties with Israel.  President Abdullah Gul has warned that relations will never be the same again.  And the Turkish parliament has called for a review of bilateral relations.

But Turkish political columnist Soli Ozel says Prime Minister Erdogan might be trying to avoid damaging long-term relations with Israel. "I was interested in seeing that the prime minister was insisting that it was the current government that was unworkable and making the distinction between Israel the state and Israel the government, and especially this government.  And so this leaves the door open, if the government changes.  Obviously, there will be room for amelioration in relations," he said.

Analysts say Mr. Erdogan's advocating the Palestinian cause and aligning himself more with Arab leaders will play well with his party's grassroots supporters.  But they say the prime minister also knows that, in the long run, maintaining ties with Israel gives it a unique voice in Jerusalem as well as Washington -- something, analysts say, Mr. Erdogan might be reluctant to give up.

You May Like

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
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.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid