Turkey: Flotilla raid was cause for war

2011-09-12 21:13

Ankara - Turkey's prime minister said on Monday that Israel's raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla last year was "cause for war" but added that his country showed "patience" and refrained from taking any action.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan made the comments before departing for a visit to Egypt later on Monday, where he will seek to boost his government's already high standing in the Arab world - a position he has achieved in part by challenging Israel on the world stage.

Erdogan, intent on broadening Turkey's influence in the Middle East and the Arab world, will also visit Tunisia and Libya, two other countries where popular uprisings have ousted autocratic leaders.

Erdogan told Al-Jazeera television in a recent interview that the Israeli raid, which killed eight Turks and a Turkish American on board a Turkish ship trying to break Israel's naval blockade of Gaza, occurred in international waters and was "unlawful".

His comments were carried by Turkey's state-run Anatolia news agency late on Sunday.

"It is a cause for war, but we decided to act in line with Turkey's grandeur and showed patience," Erdogan said.

An Israeli government spokesperson was not immediately available for comment, but Israel insists its naval commandos acted in self-defence after being attacked by some of the activists.

Israel has expressed regret for the loss of lives aboard the flotilla and said on Tuesday it was time for the two countries to restore their former close ties.

A UN report into the raid, released earlier this month, said Israel's naval blockade was legitimate but accused Israel of using "excessive and unreasonable" force in the raid.

Turkey has been angered over Israel's refusal to apologise for the raid.

In response, Turkey this month suspended its military ties with Israel, expelled top Israeli diplomats, pledged to campaign in support of the Palestinians' statehood bid and vowed to send the Turkish navy to escort Gaza-bound aid ships in the future.

On Monday, a Turkish newspaper, Sabah, said three navy ships have begun preparations ahead of their deployment in the east Mediterranean to escort ships that would carry aid to the Gaza Strip in the international waters of the Mediterranean.

Turkey's military would not comment, and Turkey's foreign ministry said it had no information on any possible deployment.

Sabah did not say when the ships would set sail.

Israel insists there is no need for aid to Gaza since it eased restrictions on imports through land crossings, labeling the flotillas political provocations.

Erdogan's visit to Egypt coincides with increasingly troubled ties between Cairo and Israel following an attack on the Israeli embassy there.

Israel fears that it is being left increasingly isolated by the Arab Spring, which is changing the power dynamics in the region, alongside tense relations former ally Turkey.


Erdogan "will try to impress [the Arab) public opinion by giving messages clearly emphasising Turkey's rift with Israel", said Mustafa Turkes of the Middle East Technical University's International Relations Department.

Kamer Kasim of the Ankara-based International Strategic Research Organization said: "The Israeli-Egyptian relations are undergoing change. Israel cannot afford tensions with both Turkey and Egypt.

"It will have to review its security policies in the Middle East."

A statement from Erdogan's office said Turkey would emphasise its support to Egypt, Tunisia and Libya in their transition to democracy.

In Egypt, Erdogan will oversee the signing of an agreement to establish a joint council to lead efforts toward a closer "strategic partnership," as well as deals to encourage cooperation, investments and trade, a statement from the Turkish prime minister's office said.

"Our hope now is that the Arab Spring does not turn into a harsh winter," Erdogan told Al-Jazeera, according to Anatolia. "These countries are trying to transform into democratic system from autocratic systems. We have to lend them a helping hand in their efforts."

Erdogan had hoped to be able to cross into Gaza from Egypt, but government officials said Sunday his scheduled would be limited to the three countries.

"I know that my brothers in Gaza are waiting for me. I too long for Gaza," Erdogan told Al-Jazeera. "Sooner or later, if God allows it, I will go to Gaza.

Erdogan travels to Tunisia on Wednesday and to Libya on Thursday.

Turkey is also eager to resume investments in Libya, where Turkish contractors were involved in 214 building projects worth more than $15bn before the rebellion that ousted strongman Muammar Gaddafi.

Bilateral trade with Libya was $2.4bn in Turkey's favor before the uprising.

  • 2WhiteStars - 2011-09-12 21:49

    These guys WANT casualties so that they can stand on their soap boxes and berate a small, tiny nation fighting for its survival. Can you imagine the carnage if anyone and anything were allowed free access into Gaza? No wonder the Israelis maintain the blockade. But here they go again. Honestly, is there any common sense and leadership left in any politicians in this world anymore?

      Martin du Plessis - 2011-09-12 21:57

      Actually, i'd like to see Turkey declare war on Israel, and see the total devastation the Israelies sow as a response to that.

      africanwolf - 2011-09-12 22:21

      I think the Israelis are ready for anything and are able to protect themselves from anyone they been living surrounded by enemies since they're existence

      daaivark - 2011-09-13 08:46

      "a small, tiny nation fighting for it's survival".... I guess that's one way of seeing it, HA HA HA HA HA.

      j4truth - 2011-09-13 11:45

      Those that Mess with Israel will come out Losers, Big Time! Ha Ha Ha Ha History shows it, Prophecy DECLARES IT! Viva Israel Viva!

  • Adam - 2011-09-12 23:02

    arabs are another storey, i wait for the day when they do something of a peaceful nature... lol fat chance

      Ogunsipe - 2011-09-13 00:37

      Turks are not arabs (and neither are Iranians for the uneducated that seem to lurk around here). I hope someday that reasonable people wake up to the devastation that Israel is causing in Gaza. These are people that have been dispossessed and are frequently subjected to "collective" punishment because of the actions of a few. If anyone here thinks that the random killing of kids because they are Palestinian is justified under any circumstance then put yourself in their position for one moment e.g. If one Afrikaner commits murder does that justify the random killing of Afrikaner women and kids. If no then please explain why you continue to support the actions of Israel?

      Messenger - 2011-09-13 10:32

      "random killing of kids because they are Palestinian"? Should be: Kids used as human shields in order to become martyrs for the so-called Palestinian cause. Oh, the wicked Hamas!

      Fred - 2011-09-13 10:39

      Ogunsipe, read the novel The Haj, more Arabs have been displaced by Arabs than all other nations put together, more Arabs have been murdered and are still been murdered by Arabs than by all other nations put together, muslims and the Arab states have more to answer for when it comes to human rights violation against their own people then all other nations in total.

      Mike - 2011-09-13 15:21

      @Ogunsipe - turks are not arabs - but i'll tell you one thing - the apple don't fall too far from the tree - they are all painted with the same brush. So, according to you , turkey, it is OK for those scabs in Gaza to shoot rockets into Istaerl willy-nilly - and they are supposed to sit back and take it - you are a rotten chop! Hey wena - sies!

      BrassCopper - 2011-09-13 16:39 BBC’s Panorama - What happened on the Flotilla to Gaza Every human being of sound mind should know this by now. In any event, US and Israel are not the Satan that the Ayatollah of Rock'n rollah declared. With the way the Arabs behave one wonders if perhaps they are the ones who are worthy of that title. On the topic though, I have come to realise that the Israelis are demonised, many many times without justification. Clearly the Arabs have never wanted Israel to exist and have tried many times, unsuccessfully, to drive them into the sea. Now the Israelis are pretty straight forward people. You threaten them, they sort you out. Nothing wrong with defending your state and it citizens. Especially against unsavoury fundamentalists who persist on threatening and attacking Israel.

  • Durbsdude - 2011-09-13 06:41

    That and you know that a war with Israel will not be wise as they kick serious butt...

      Mike - 2011-09-13 15:24

      If only the Yanks can take a leaf out of the Jews book on war. this trash needs to be sorted. Go on Turkey - just fire one bomb into israel - I dare you - dan gaan die poppe dans! You ain't seen nothing yet! I'm a Christain - but I back the Jews - we are like brothers in arms.

  • kubs - 2011-09-13 08:15

    Israel used excessive force, in international waters, even shooting activists in the back..and all Turkey wanted was an apology..and Israel refused..serioulsy how low can Israel go?..Iran,Egypt,Turkey should attack this evil nation...the surprise will be that China and Russia will help the attack against Israel this time..the root cause of islamic terrorism world wide is Israel

      Libertador - 2011-09-13 09:02

      True to a certain extent re terrorism because Islamist extremism started when the Allied victors started expelling swathes of Polish, Hungarian and Russian juden from Europe to rellocate them to Palestine.

      Fred - 2011-09-13 10:49

      Who murdered the Shite muslims on a pilgrimage in Iraq this week, who blew up their shrine, it had nothing to do with Israel or the West, and as for Russia and China, they will not help unless they can profit out of the sale of weapons, Russia did help in the 6day war and Afghanistan, never again. Libertador, The allies tried to stop the immigration of Jews into palestine, you're history is very poor or just possible biased, the fact that you have a picture of the murdering, coward Che Guevara as your I.D. photo suggests both.

      geeghey - 2011-09-13 12:31

      @ kubs- talking about an apology, don't you think that the turks owe the cypriots an apology for the illegal invasion, genocide and continued occupation of their land? you hypocrite! the scum bag filthy turks have no leg to stand on and no right to preach to israel about occupation!

      JustinD - 2011-09-13 15:01


      Mike - 2011-09-13 15:27

      kubs - what panet you from? I dare you and your ilk to try and attack Israel - you will get a rude awakenig for sure! You jerks were told not to send those stupid ships and you went ahead - what about don't don't you understand?

      Other Justin - 2011-09-13 16:07

      kuds, you don't see the big picture. Israel is an atomic weapons country, if Russia fights, the USA will fight, if China fights, Britain, France and Germany will fight. ALL of the above mentioned countries are nuclear nations. The USA and Europe for Israel against Russia and China for Turkey and Egypt. Also remember that Turkey is a NATO nation, so technically they are allies of USA and Europe. There cannot be war between the large nuclear nations, there is too much at stake. Israel is the only Nuclear nation in the middle east, that is their last straw deterrent against hostilities from it's neighbors or larger threats like China or Russia. Don't be a fool, nobody wants war, too much collateral damage, nobody wins. Don't be so quick to shout war, think. This needs a diplomatic solution. The USA will push Israel to find diplomatic solution eventually.

      mecan - 2011-09-13 16:47

      suppose the roles were reversed, and Israel had sent - or at least not prevented - a boat or flotilla to make an incursion into Turkey's territorial waters or a (hypothetical) blockade Turkey had imposed in its own self-defense. Suppose further, that it was then intercepted by A Turkish Coastal Patrol and its boarding party was attacked by people aboard such vessel and the Turkish force had acted in its own defense, perhaps with what some might argue was excessive force, to the detriment of the attackers and the demise of some of them? Would anyone be calling on Turkey to apologize to Israel or make payments to the families of the perpetrators? I think not. Israel had every right to impose and enforce its blockade against its overtly hostile neighbor in Gaza, and the incursion had no right to be there. Nothing more need be said.

  • daaivark - 2011-09-13 08:48

    War talk, no matter by whom or addressed to whom, is no way for civilised people to deal with their issues. How many thousands of years will it require for human beings to realise how mutually destructive we are?

      Libertador - 2011-09-13 08:59

      Humans are still in the Dark Ages and, collectively, are savages. The sooner we disappear the better!

      Fred - 2011-09-13 10:50

      Libertador, now you're talking sense.

      Mike - 2011-09-13 15:28

      @Libertador & @Fred - I'll open the door - you two go first!

      Other Justin - 2011-09-13 16:10

      Couldn't agree more, war is a lose lose situation...

  • Messenger - 2011-09-13 10:24

    Muslim countries transforming from autocracies to democracies? What a joke! It's rather a transformation from dictatorship to Shariah.

  • zackie - 2011-09-13 10:51

    Israel has gone on too long doing as it pleases in the Middle East under the protection of the USA, now the tide is turing Israel should make peace first and not try to bomb their way out of the mess they are in

      Mike - 2011-09-13 15:29

      Oh Zackie - you too, wipe the corners of yor mouth - the wrong orifice is working overtime!

  • j4truth - 2011-09-13 11:50

    Muslim democracy?There is no such thing It works like this: You can vote for whoever you wan- - so long as he/she is Muslim!!?? Democracy = Mob Rule !! Pity the World

      Libertador - 2011-09-13 15:41

      Western democracy? Westerners used to laugh at the Soviet 'elections' where you could vote for any candidates you like, so long as they were communists. They have sleepwalked themselves into an almost identical situation where you can vote for any candidates you like so long as they're neoliberal capitalists. Republican and Democrats are both war parties that represent no one but corporate amerika, the same has happened in the UK.

  • JustinD - 2011-09-13 15:03

    Isreal will blow Turkey off the face of the earth....that's why they did nothing.

  • Mike - 2011-09-13 15:17

    "refrained from taking any action". You are so lucky you did not or won't. If there is one thing the Jews know what and how to do is to put a silencer on these moegoes! I am getting somehting wrong here - were they not told NOT to send - and yet they did. Israel: give the arabs and the turks and the syrians and those lebanese hell - go on - give it to them. wipe them off the face of the earth - they are scum!

  • Monacoroyals - 2011-09-13 16:22

    "a position he has achieved in part by challenging Israel on the world stage." (ie by using Israel as a sacape goat) "Erdogan, intent on broadening Turkey's influence in the Middle East and the Arab world," (ie, Turkey has become a fundamentalist terrorist supporting state in support of Hamas - as their influence in the Middle East and the Arab world grows - so does the west lose respect and patients of Turkey) It is a matter of time till they get kicked out of NATO

      MosesMabhida - 2011-09-13 16:33

      Terrorist supporting Turkey is no longer an asset to NATO. It uses NATO weapons to murder innocent Kurdish civilians in Iraq - a war crime committed with NATO weapons. When will Turkey apologize for the massacre of Armenians and Cypriots? Mr. Erdogan does not like to be reminded of the massacre of Armenians. He also does not like to be asked about his government's invasion of Cyprus and the expulsion of Greek Cypriots. Mr. Erdogan is one big hypocrite. Israel must not let Turkey make the running and should sever all diplomatic ties now. Israel should then support the moves to recognise the Armenian genocide and the illegal occupation of northern Cyprus. Take the gloves off! Better an open enemy than a treacherous 'ally'

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