Anti-Israel rally in Istanbul
Photo: AFP
'Tried to stop flotilla.' Erdogan
Photo: Reuters

Criticism in Turkey: Erdogan knew Gaza sail would be violent

PM dismiss claims, says tried to convince IHH to call off flotilla; columnists warn Turkey aligning itself with Iran, Syria, Hamas and Hezbollah. 'We must be careful,' opposition leader says

Politicians from Turkey's opposition parties and a number of columnists have expressed concern over the fueling of public rage towards Israel by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government in the aftermath of the deadly raid on the Gaza-bound flotilla. 


According to the critics, this policy is jeopardizing the delicate balance Turkey has maintained in its ties with the East and West. The public agenda, they say, is being dictated by the formerly obscure Humanitarian Relief Foundation, or IHH, an Islamist charity group believed by many to have links to global terror organizations.


IHH organized the flotilla to Gaza, which was intercepted by Israel. Nine people were killed when Israeli commandos raided the convoy's lead vessel, the MV Mavi Marmara.


Kemal Kilicdaroglu, chairman of The Republican People's Party and one of the opposition's leaders, told Turkish television, "The European Union and the United States consider Hamas a terror organization. We must be careful." The politician also demanded that the government release communications with Israel prior to the incident, suggesting it allowed the flotilla to proceed despite knowing that violence was likely.


According to the Wall Street Journal, Erdogan dismissed Kilicdaroglu as an Israeli "advocate" and said his government sought to persuade the IHH against taking the flotilla to Gaza, but was unable to stop an independent organization.


The newspaper said skepticism concerning the IHH version of events on the Mavi Marmara "appears to have accelerated as a result of unexpected criticism of the IHH's actions from influential Turkish spiritual leader Fethullah Gülen."


According to the Wall Street Journal, analysts saw the intervention by a figure respected by many in the Turkish government as a warning that the storm of anti-Israeli feeling risked getting out of hand.


"People will understand very soon that the IHH is harming Turkey," wrote Cuneyt Ulsever, a columnist in the daily Hurriet, on Sunday, saying the effect of the crisis would be to persuade the West that Turkey is aligning itself with the likes of Iran, Syria, Hamas and Hezbollah.


Two major dailies, Hurriyet and Haberturk have now published on their front pages photographs of the bloodied Israeli soldiers captured during the initial fighting, the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.


According to the newspaper, the religious conservative daily Vakit last week published on its front page the names and photographs of eight newspaper columnists who censured the government's handling of the flotilla affair. The headline read, "Spin doctors who shoot bullets at the aid ship." 


פרסום ראשון: 06.09.10, 08:26
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