Friday, August 13, 2010

Turkish Opposition Rejects Regime Policy on Gaza Flotilla

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By Barry Rubin

In a sign of its deepening involvement in the Iran-Syria-Hamas-Hizballah alliance, the Turkish regime is now apparently letting Iran ship arms directly through Turkey for the Hizballah forces in Lebanon. That the Ankara government is actively participating in providing aid for an anti-Western terrorist group should be a matter of concern, especially since it furthers Tehran's strategic expansion.

Two Turkish legal experts, in separate articles, have criticized the Mavi Marmara jihad operation over the last few weeks, pointing out that Turkey has no jurisdiction over the issue, that the Gaza flotilla organizers acted wrongly, and Israel had the right to seize the ship.

What's significant over this new development is that people within Turkey are beginning to stand up against the wave of religious and nationalist demagoguery unleashed by the current Islamist regime. Indeed, the opportunity to make such political gains at a time when the regime is increasingly unpopular and faces potentil defeat in next year's elections was one of the main reason why the Turkish government sponsored the operation that it almost certainly knew would end in violence.

And the most important point of all is that one of these articles--the most critical one--quotes a former minister of justice and is published in the official organ of the Republican People's Party (CHP), the main opposition party and the likely winner of next year's election. The article ends with a sharp attack on Prime Minister Recep Erdogan:

"We hope that the arrogant Sultan Fatih [conquering sultan, a sarcastic reference to Erdogan] "will be directly updated by genuine events occurring in the world and will not drag us into the morass of the Middle East."

Clearly, the party made a political decision to take this stance. In contrast to Erdogan's position--Turkey has been insulted and several of its citizens murdered--the opposition view is that the regime is acting recklessly, endangering Turkish interests, and acting as if it is ready to pull Turkey into a war.

In practice, the current regime's view is in contrast to that of the republic's founder Kemal Ataturk's famous dictum of peace at home and peace abroad. But this isn't surprising since the government seeks to destroy the secular republic that has served Turkey so well and brought it so much progress for more than 70 years. I'll bet Turkish voters agree with that critique at the polls next year and throw out a regime whose main (arguably its sole) foreign policy achievement is to ally with Iran, Syria, Hamas, and Hizballah against the West.

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). The website of the GLORIA Center is at and of his blog, Rubin Reports, at

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