Erdogan vows that Turkey will not Let Israel Get away with Flotilla Attack

Predictably, the Israeli military investigation of itself with regard to the commando attack on the Mavi Marmara humanitarian aid ship on May 31 is a whitewash that says the deployment of deadly fire by the troops was justified. Eyewitnesses reported that one seated photographer was abruptly shot between the eyes, and that another innocent’s head exploded when he was shot from above. The report mentions the Israelis airlifting the humanitarian workers whom they had injured to shore for medical treatment but not the nine persons, one of them an American citizen, whom they killed.

Despite a resignation among intellectuals in the United States to Israel having gotten away with it again, the mood is quite different in Turkey.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said again on Monday that he ‘has no intention of letting Israel get away with its “pirate-like” and “barbarous” attack which led to the death of civilians. ‘

Erdogan said, “I’m saying it very clearly: The Mavi Marmara and those on board who were carrying medicine and games for children were subject to a barbarous and pirate-like attack in international waters. We will never give up pursuing this point,”

Erdogan also expressed impatience with the failure of the Obama administration to pressure the Israelis about the attack, saying that President Obama had said he agreed with Erdogan’s stance when they met privately, but then seemed not to have followed through when Obama met recently with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. Or, Erdogan speculated, perhaps press reports about the Obama-Netanyahu love fest were inaccurate (i.e. behind the scenes Obama may have actually read Netanyahu the riot act about the assault on the Gaza aid flotilla).

IHH, the Turkish charity backing the flotilla effort, rejected the Israeli report, contrasting the firearm-toting Israeli commandos to the civilians aboard. Aljazeera English has video:

Israel responded last month to the IHH flotilla efforts by putting the organization on a terrorism watch list.

Writing in Today’s Zaman, Ayse Karabat reports on the reaction of Turkish intellectuals such as Sedat Laçiner to the Israeli military report. Laçiner observed, ‘as someone who lives in Ankara, I was able to contact the Mavi Marmara and able to ask them how the situation was. They told me that there was a group of people on the ship, preparing sticks to use against Israeli soldiers if they tried to intercept them. If I knew that, sure Israel knew about it, too.’

Nihat Ali Özcan of the Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey, said, “Recent developments in the world tell us that if you confront a group, you have to learn their conflict culture, not their physical capacity. The passengers of the ship were from a civil society organization, but not a Norwegian-style [one].”

Kürşat Atilgan, a retired military officer now serving in the Turkish parliament, criticized Israel as a ‘paranoid state’ and said that it was impossible to know at what distance from their shores their paranoia would kick in.

Turkey continues to demand an apology from Israel, and has closed off its airspace to the Israeli air force.

7 Responses

  1. So, especially with Obama’s most recent performance we have a pretty good sense of the power of The Lobby on US policy. What we MAY get to see is how powerfully they really are, since the most direct lever they could apply to Turkey would be threatening its relationship with the US.

    Not that Turkey would be as sensitive to such pressure, which would be indirect, but a serious attempt along these lines would be visible and could provide a way of gaging their reach and power, especially over the next few months.

    Of course, the fix may already be in, and these Turkish statements could be for public consumption, given deep existing relationships, and how business is business, and what’s all the hubbub about these Troublesome Little People anyway….

  2. In the Zaman article, Kürşat Atılgan also blames Israel for the recent PKK attacks without giving a shred of evidence. Perhaps he is the paranoid one.

    For what it’s worth, he also states the only way to deal with the PKK is militarily. Sounds like he would be a member of the Likud if he lived in Israel.

  3. Well, David, Mr. Atilgan is described as a retired army officer. The Turkish Army is Edrogan’s greatest enemy, a historically anti-democratic organization that turned Ataturkism into a state religion at war against Islam, and created a civil state that similarly wages war on Moslems and bans the parties of elected officeholders for insufficient loyalty to Ataturkism. So yeah, he’d be a good fit in the Likud. The Army has been mad at Edrogan because he doesn’t want to kill Kurds enough. Israeli “contractors” have often been reported to be helping the Iraqi Kurdish fiefdom with military matters, and the warlords running that fiefdom have done a great job protecting the PKK in Iraq from the US Occupation, so that the PKK could attack the US’s NATO ally the last 7 years. So I guess if you’re angling on using Atilgan to smear Edrogran, you will have to be careful claiming the Kurds as heroic victims of Edrogan’s extremism.

  4. Meanwhile, we’re all still ignoring the question of Turkey’s geostrategic importance. Which is not surprising when Americans run a world that they can’t recognize on a map. Turkey was Bush’s (read Cheney’s) oil trump card – the Baku-Tblisi-Ceyhan pipeline was supposed to turn the ex-Soviet ‘Stans into Exxonstan. A vulnerable pipline winding through various war zones for no purpose but to wage economic war on Russia and Iran by throwing out all notions of “free trade”. But we’ve done nothing but antagonize the Turkish electorate ever since. How much of the oil arriving in Turkey was meant to be shipped to Israel in the future? Don’t bet on it now.

    Furthermore, since the 1800s Britain considered the biggest threat from Russia to be its overthrow of the Ottoman Empire and waged a cold war – Charge of the Light Brigade and all – to prevent the Russians from gaining open access to the Mediterranean. Like most British imperial goals, that one was passed to the US after 1945. If at any point during the Cold War, Turkey had switched sides, it would have been considered a strategic catastrophe of the greatest magnitude in the Pentagon. Yet now we act as though Turkey is nothing, and Israel is everything, and Putin is not standing there with a lot of oil and gas ready to send to Turkey as a bribe.

    On top of all that, it was reported after Bush’s arrogant dismissal of Saudi initiatives to hasten the peace process in Iraq and Palestine that the Sauds had embarked on a more independent foreign policy. Their key agents – the Turkish and Pakistani governments. Why? Well, besides Pakistan’s nukes, I expect that both nations being viewed as democracies made them look better in Western media than the Saudi’s own despotism. Pakistan is also massively in debt to Arab investors. This is a complicated 3-way development, and it could have many good or bad outcomes. But this is not a case of America being able to punish Turkey without it having others to turn to. At least Putin and King Abdullah can read a map.

  5. This is a test for all countries of the world. Either let Israel get away with this crime just like it got away with all the crimes against the Palestinian people all along or bring it to justice. Providence has provided Turkey with an opportunity like a blessing in disguise. Turkey should never ever let this chance go. Go Turkey go.

  6. “Or, Erdogan speculated, perhaps press reports about the Obama-Netanyahu love fest were inaccurate (i.e. behind the scenes Obama may have actually read Netanyahu the riot act about the assault on the Gaza aid flotilla).”

    Wait, people are again imagining that Obama stands for the exact opposite of the policies he is actually implementing? Are we that close to election time?

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