News / Middle East

Turkish PM's Planned Gaza Trip Riles Washington

Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan (r) and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ankara, Turkey, April 22, 2013.
Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan (r) and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ankara, Turkey, April 22, 2013.
Dorian Jones
A diplomatic dispute is deepening between Washington and Ankara over the Turkish prime minister's planned visit to the Gaza Strip. Ankara has rejected a public request by Washington to postpone next month's planned visit.  
 
Ankara has strongly criticized a call from U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to postpone a planned visit by the Turkish prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, to the Palestinian enclave of Gaza.

Kerry warned that Erdogan’s visit could undermine his recent efforts to revitalize peace talks between the Palestinians and Israelis.

Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc rejected the call.

"Turkey finds it diplomatically objectionable and I want the world to know that Turkey has the power to do whatever it wishes," said Arinc.

Diplomatic columnist Semih Idiz of the Turkish newspaper Taraf says the Gaza visit is being driven by Turkish domestic considerations for Erdogan.

"I think this is tied in with domestic politics and his image and among Islamic supporters in the region," said Idiz. "He is walking a delicate line at the moment because clearly the grand strategic requirement [is that] he reconciles with Israel and get back on track with some Middle East [peace] process. And he has to appear to his own public opinion that he is sticking to his word and Gaza of course is one way of trying to show this."

Erdogan has good relations with the Hamas leadership that controls the Gaza Strip.

Columnist Idiz says Ankara believes it can enhance Palestinian unification efforts between Hamas and rival Fatah which controls the West Bank.

"Foreign Minister Davutoglu said the issue is not Erdogan going to Gaza but Palestinian reconciliation," he said. "There is some talk that reconciliation talks between Al Fatah and Hamas is going to speed up in the coming period. But I don’t think he would want to appear to be a spoiler in terms of Palestinian reconciliation and this is where his real difficulty is."

After months of acrimony, relations between Turkey and Israel thawed recently when Israel apologized to Turkey over the 2010 killing of nine Turks aboard an aid ship trying to break an Israeli economic embargo of the Gaza Strip.

U.S. President Barack Obama helped broker the apology during a recent visit to Israel.

The dispute over Erdogan’s visit to Gaza could overshadow his planned visit to Washington scheduled for early next month. Kerry said it could be on agenda.

"Our sense it will be more helpful to wait for the right circumstances," said Kerry. "I think the prime minister listened very graciously to that. I think he has been very thoughtful and sensitive about it. If need be, we certainly can have further conversations about it when he comes to Washington."
 
Political scientist Cengiz Aktar of Istanbul’s Bahcesehir University says U.S. diplomatic pressure on Erdogan is expected to grow.

"Americans have another agenda," said Aktar. "They will repeat that and they will do everything to make sure he is not going there. But that won't destroy the relationship existing between the two countries. But at the end of the day, he [Erdogan] may be responsive to this call by Kerry and the Obama administration."
 
For now,  Erdogan has ruled out any change to his planned visit to Gaza.

You May Like

Video Iran Nuclear Deal Becomes US Campaign Issue

Voters in three crucial battleground states - Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania - overwhelmingly oppose nuclear deal with Iran More

With IS in Coalition Cross-Hairs, al-Qaida's Syria Affiliate Reemerges

Jabhat al-Nusra has rebounded, increasingly casting itself as a critical player in battle for Syria’s future More

Lessons Learned From Katrina, 10 Years Later

FEMA chief Craig Fugate says key changes include better preparation, improved coordination among state, federal assistance agencies More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs