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

    Multimedia Obama Calls on Americans to Help the Families of Its War Dead

    In last Memorial Day of his presidency, Obama lays wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery

    The Strife of the Party: Will Trump Permanently Alter Republicans?

    While billionaire mogul's no-holds-barred style, high-energy delivery are what rocketed him to nomination, they also have created rift between party elites and his supporters

    China's Education Reforms Spark Protest

    Beijing is putting a quota system in place to increase the number of students from poor regions attending universities

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora