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Monday, July 12, 2010     GET REAL

Turkish government embraces Hamas agenda, gives Israel cold shoulder

ANKARA — The Islamist government of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan has adopted the agenda of the Hamas regime in the Gaza Strip, a senior analyst said.


Soner Cagaptay, a senior researcher at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said Erdogan and his supporters have become the leading supporters of Hamas in the Middle East.

In an analysis that appeared in the Turkish media, Cagaptay said Erdogan's Justice and Development Party has led the new Turkish policy of embracing Hamas and other Islamic regimes in the region, Middle East Newsline reported.

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"Since the AKP took office in November 2002, the party's pro-Hamas rhetoric and conduct — including successive visits to Turkey by Hamas officials, as well as government-sponsored Hamas fundraisers and gatherings — have for the first time brought Hamas' rhetoric to Turkey," Cagaptay said.

Cagaptay said Ankara's adoption of Hamas has sparked a severe decline in relations with Israel. He said the policy has also resulted in massive anti-Israel and pro-Hamas demonstrations in Turkey.

"Consequently, pro-Hamas Web sites are proliferating in Turkey. Traditional Turkish sympathy for the Palestinians is turning into sympathy for Hamas," Cagaptay said.

A recent poll by the British Broadcasting Corp. reported that 23 percent of Turks regard Israel as a threat. Only two percent have retained a favorable view of the Jewish state.

"The AKP, a party with an Islamist pedigree came to power in Turkey, promoting its vision of a political Muslim world and suggesting that Turkey and the Turks belong to this singular religio-political world," Cagaptay said. "It is the power of this Manichean trajectory which explains the Turks' changing foreign policy and their new relationship with Israel and Hamas."

Cagaptay said AKP intends to sever Turkey's relations with Israel, particularly in the area of defense and military. He cited the Turkish cancellation of Israel's participation in the annual Anatolian Eagle combat air exercise in October 2009.

"The AKP's cancellation of military exercises with Israel is the beginning of the end of Turkish-Israeli ties," Cagaptay said. "What is more, the AKP's cancellation of Israeli participation in the Anatolian Eagle exercise because of its evaluation of Israel's behavior toward Hamas demonstrates that the AKP sees Turkey as responsible for defending Hamas' agenda as opposed to Israel's."

Cagaptay said Turkey was also adopting such Islamist regimes as that led by President Omar Bashir in Sudan. The analysis said Erdogan, arguing that a Muslim was incapable of atrocities, has ignored United Nations reports of mass killings by the Bashir regime.

"The AKP's behavior towards Israel and Sudan shows that the party views Israel through a new, Islamist prism," Cagaptay said. "Muslims who are always right even when they kill their own kind vs. non-Muslims who are always wrong when they confront Muslims even when acting in self-defense."

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