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

UN Watchdog Urges Israel to Probe Possible Gaza War Crimes

More than 2,100 Palestinians, most of them civilians, were killed in a 51-day war in Gaza, along with 67 Israeli soldiers and six civilians in Israel More

New Kenyan 'Thin SIMs' Poised to Transform African Mobile Money

Equity's new technology is approved in African nation for one-year trial, though industry leader Safaricom says thin SIMs could lead to data theft and fraud More

Solar's Future Looks Brighter

New technology and dropping prices are contributing to a surge in solar power 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.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid