A newly released policy report on Turkey by the German Marshall Fund’s Transatlantic Academy in Washington caught my eye this week. The report was dubbed, “Getting to Zero: Turkey, Its Neighbors and the West,” and the brief’s analysis and policy recommendations unfortunately display a distinct pro-Turkish bias which fails to recognize that Ankara’s aggressive foreign and security policy posture is increasingly at odds with core U.S. and European interests.
“They [Hamas] won the election. You are always talking about democracy. You’ll never let Hamas rule. What kind of democracy is this?” Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Friday at a rally held in Konya, a central Anatolian province. He addressed thousands of people gathered at the rally with very strong anti-Israel sentiments.
In the aftermath of the attempt by Hamas supporters to breach Israel's Gaza blockade, more questions should be asked about Turkey's relationship to Hamas--and about the U.S. attitude toward Turkey and its pro-Hamas associates. One point is already obvious: Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) is a backer of the antiblockade campaign.
Western press accounts have enumerated the many left-wing human rights activists who were among the Gaza-bound flotilla’s passengers earlier this week. But there were other, more conspicuous passengers aboard the ships. The Muslim Brotherhood, in particular, was well-represented.
Over at the Wall Street Journal, Robert Pollock has an important piece about Turkey’s “national decline into madness.” Demonic images of the United States, Israel, and the Jews, are the daily fare of the Turkish press.
The details of Israel’s attempt on Monday to enforce the blockade of Gaza are less important than the consequences that will now begin to unfold. The Turkish passenger ship Mavi Marmara (Blue Marmara) was one of several that were attempting to run a blockade that Israel has been enforcing against the Hamas terrorists who control Gaza and launch rockets at civilian targets in Israel. Egypt maintains a land blockade for security reasons as well. The 4000-ton Mavi Marmara was sponsored by Insani Yardim Vakfi, a Turkish organization that Reuters has described as an “Islamic charity group.”
The most ominous aspect of the flotilla incident is Turkey's involvement. The flotilla bound for Gaza, in violation of the blockade, was allowed to leave a Turkish port. The main sponsor was a Turkish charity known for ties to jihadist groups. The Turkish diplomatic and governmental apparatus sprung into action at the first sign of trouble -- which of course there was, since the "peace activists" onboard the flotilla were masked and armed with lead pipes and knives.
The Turkish organizers of the Gaza Strip-bound flotilla that was boarded this morning by Israeli commandos knew well in advance that their vessels would never reach Israeli waters. That's because the organizers belong to a nonprofit that was banned by the Israeli government in July 2008 for its ties to terrorism finance.