Turkey: Israel's Flotilla Raid Was 'Cause For War'

Sep 12, 2011

The once friendly relationship between Israel and Turkey has been strained further, as Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan stepped up his rhetoric today.

According to the AP, Erdogan said Israel's raid on a Turkish flotilla last year was "cause for war," yet Turkey showed "patience" and did not take further action.

The issue of the flotilla resurfaced after the United Nations issued a report that ruled the raid was legal, but that Israel used "excessive" force and so they should apologize.

Israel has refused to apologize and Turkey still maintains the raid in international waters was illegal. NPR's Michele Kelemen explained the strained relations in a piece earlier this month.

Essentially, a few things have aligned to bring Mid-East tensions to a significant point: First, Palestinians are seeking recognition from the U.N. this fall; second, this weekend brought attacks on the Israeli embassy in Egypt; third, Turkey said it would support Palestinians in their U.N. quest; fourth, Erdogan made the latest comments just before a trip to Egypt and, finally, there are now reports of plans for a new flotilla to carry aid into the Gaza Strip.

The AP breaks it down like this:

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.

Soner Cagaptay, a Senior Fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, wrapped it up succintly for CNN a few days ago. He writes that the current situation presents "Israel with a uniquely threatening security environment."

Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.