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Sunday, September 11, 2011

Erdogan walks it back

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has walked back his threat to send gunboats to protect weapons shipments to Gaza.
Turkey and Israel took baby-steps back over the weekend from a further dramatic deterioration in ties, with Turkish officials saying Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s threats of sending gunboats to Gaza were misinterpreted – and Israel made clear it had not decided to support the Kurdish militants fighting Turkey.

According to officials quoted in Istanbul’s Today’s Zaman newspaper over the weekend, remarks Erdogan made during an interview on Al Jazeera Thursday about the gunboats were “quoted out of context.” According to the paper, in the Turkish version of the interview, Erdogan said: “At the moment, no doubt, Turkish warships are first of all liable to protect their own ships. This is the first step.

And there is humanitarian aid, which we will extend.

Our humanitarian assistance will no longer be attacked as happened in the case of the Mavi Marmara.”

A senior government official quoted by Today’s Zaman on Friday said Erdogan’s remarks did not mean Ankara was preparing to send humanitarian-aid ships to Gaza, escorted by Turkish gunboats.

“As long as Israel does not interfere in the freedom of navigation, we do not plan on sending any warships to escort humanitarian-aid ships,” the official was quoted as saying.

“The misquoted remarks suggest that we have been readying to provide a warship to escort each humanitarian aid ship. This is not the case. However, Turkey will protect its citizens’ rights in the event of any interference in international waters.”

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said on Saturday night Israel wanted to prevent a further deterioration of ties with Turkey.

“We didn’t choose this, and we will work to lower the flames, and if possible to rebuild the ties.”

Also on Saturday night, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said in a Channel 2 interview that there was no Israeli proposal on the agenda to help or have contact with the PKK Kurdish militant organization.

Lieberman was referring to a story in Yediot Aharonot on Friday that this was one of the steps the government was discussing as a response to threats from Ankara.
I suspect that the Egyptians may have told the Turks that they are not very interested in having weapons reach Gaza either. After all, it was the Egyptians who also forced Erdogan to walk back the idea of visiting Gaza this week.

As to aiding the PKK, if Israel is going to do that (and it may well be already), it would be wise to keep quiet about it.

In the meantime, if you want to see a really neat x-ray version of the picture above, go here (Hat Tip: Joe's Ramblings).

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At 2:34 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

Israel's firmness convinced the Turks to walk back their threats. Erdogan is looking to bolster his standing in the Arab and Muslim World. But at the same time, he knows a war would damage Turkey in certain goals like joining the EU, that Ankara prizes far more than taking on Israel.

An Israeli apology would only have played into the Turkish Islamists' hands and worsened Israel's situation. Standing up to a bully always wins you his respect.

At 5:28 PM, Blogger Empress Trudy said...

Expel all Turks from Israel now. Call it operation Battle of Lepanto - II.

At 6:28 PM, Blogger ais cotten19 said...

I really admire Israel's stance in all this. Weeks of bending over backwards, making measured and conciliatory statements, being as humble as all get out.

Then when Turkey finally backs off a little, Israel "reciprocates" by promising not to fund the Kurdish resistance (yeah right). The Turks know this is a load of bull but what can they do?

I give Israel and their "speak softly but carry a big stick" approach the upper hand in this bout.


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