Turkey’s Islamists Call for End to Israeli Military Ties

ISTANBUL (Hurriyet)—Turkey’s continued military ties with Israel have become the target of criticism by the country’s Islamists, who say the prime minister was not strong enough in his remarks condemning Israel’s attack on a Gaza aid flotilla.

“If the military relations between Turkey and Israel continue, the [ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP)] will lose support by creating more disappointment among its base,” said Mehmet Sever, the head of the Istanbul International Brotherhood and Solidarity Association, or İBS, an Islamist Turkish charity.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s speech to his party’s group meeting Tuesday, in which he blamed Israel for the deadly assault, was seen as “not strong enough” by the AKP’s Islamist base, according to Sever. Party supporters expect more action, he added.

“There is disappointment among the AKP grassroots as they were expecting more from the government,” Sever said. “But this incident is very recent and we must see what the government does next.”

Diplomatically speaking, he added, Erdogan’s speech was severe and on mark and has already had the effect of making Israel start to release those in custody.

“We are expecting the government to take more deterrent actions,” Necdet Kutsal, the editor in chief of Milli Gazete, which has close ties to the Islamist Saadet Party, told the Daily News. “We have learned that three military exercises with Israel were canceled. This is a good development.”

Though Kutsal agreed that Erdogan’s speech was too soft, he said it is important that all political parties stand firm with the same position.

The government should cancel its military ties with Israel and deport the Israeli ambassador immediately, Numan Kurtulmuş, the head of Saadet Party, said at a press conference Wednesday.

Not all Islamist groups found Erdogan’s speech and the government’s reaction disappointing, however. “The AKP took the right steps in this period [after the attack]. The severest speech in United Nations history was made [and] Egypt opened the border gate,” Abdurrahman Dilipak, a columnist for the Islamist daily Vakit, told Hurriyet.

Saying that he believed the speeches by Erdogan and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu were both important, and that the prime minister has great support from society, Dilipak also warned about the need for follow up. “This support depends on the following developments and keeping the promises that have been made. The next steps that will be taken may increase that support,” he said.

Dilipak said Turkey should have sent war ships to escort the aid flotilla, calling the failure to do so a security weakness, a position also held by Ali Bulac, a columnist for conservative daily Zaman.

“If the government thought that Israel would not attack the aid ships, then it failed to evaluate the situation… If it expected that to happen and it did not take precautions, then it means hundreds of volunteers [on the aid ship] were put in a dangerous situation,” Bulac wrote in his column Wednesday.

The columnist said Turkey could have sent two war ships to secure the protection of the aid vessels. Sever, however, disagreed, saying the humanitarian shipments were a civilian initiative and it would not have been right to have them accompanied by military vessels.

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2 Comments

  1. MihranK said:

    Turkey and Israel had prior agreement to imitate conflict

    June 3, 2010 – 16:16 AMT 11:16 GMT
    PanARMENIAN.Net –

    Flotilla Freedom incident was carefully planned by Ankara and
    Tel-Aviv, in accordance with two countries’ prior agreement to imitate
    a conflict, RA National Neo-conservative Movement (NNM) leader Eduard
    Abrahamyan stated.

    As he noted at joint news conference with Caucasus Institute deputy
    director, political expert Sergey Minasyan, by stirring a wave of
    protest among Turks, Israel is attempting to weaken anti-Israeli moods
    in Iran, as well as the whole Arabic world, to draw international
    community’s attention to anti-Zionist tendencies in Turkey. Still,
    Abrahamyan said, there will never be serious issues between Turkey and
    Israel.

    Sergey Minasyan, in turn, noted that current Middle East crisis may
    lead to serious consequences. “AKP ruling party’s policy is aimed at
    activation of Turkish factor in Middle East, which explains change of
    relationships format with Israel,” political expert stated,
    characterizing opening of hostilities between Israel and Turkey as
    unlikely.

    According to Sergey Minasyan, Freedom Flotilla incident will secure
    Iran and Arabic world’s support for Turkey. “The incident put Azeri
    officials in uncomfortable situation. Feeling obligated to act in the
    interests of Islamic solidarity, Baku will attempt to keep the
    distance with Tel-Aviv,” the expert stated.

    Dwelling on the possibility of Israel recognizing Armenian Genocide
    against the background of Turkey-Israeli crisis, Eduard Abrahamyan
    noted the Genocide issue has already become the subject of gamble in
    the country. “To Israel, recognition of Armenian Genocide is viewed in
    the framework of relations with US, Russia and even Azerbaijan,” NNM
    leader emphasized.

  2. john papazian said:

    Some big assumptions in there,though Turkeys current government does not enjoy as much Islamic support as it would like,Muslims always side with there own. Isreals position has always been one of “us against the world”. Acknowledging the genocide will only happen when its in thier own intrest,same as the US. If there’s a fundimentalist take over in Turkey,either politicly or violently,the US might be thinking about how to exploit an easly bought and corrupt government in Armenia

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