Sorry for those of you bored with this story, but this really is a diplomatic train-wreck and I really don’t think people understand how furious the Turks are and how we are getting caught in the crossfire:
With anger and sarcasm, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu lashed out Tuesday at Israel’s attack on a Gaza aid flotilla and by extension the Obama administration’s reluctance to immediately condemn the assault that left at least nine civilians dead.
“Psychologically, this attack is like 9/11 for Turkey,” Davutoglu told reporters over breakfast in Washington before going to the State Department to meet with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. He referred to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, in which al-Qaeda hijackers used commandeered U.S. airliners to kill nearly 3,000 people.
Davutoglu displayed a map showing that the attack took place 72 nautical miles off the coast of Israel, far beyond the 12-mile sovereign border. He said that the “Israelis believe they are above any law” but that they would be held to account by Turkey and the international community. He likened the actions of the Israeli government to “pirates off the coast of Somalia,” not a civilized nation, and ridiculed Israeli claims that some in the flotilla were linked to al-Qaeda.
Members of the European Parliament were on board, he noted, adding archly that he didn’t know that “al-Qaeda had infiltrated the European Parliament.”
The Turkish English daily, the Hurriyet has a lot more in that vein:
Following Monday’s attack, Turkey is also calling on Israel to take steps to compensate the victims. In addition to an official apology, Ankara is asking Israel to punish the perpetrators of the brutality and compensate the families of the people who lost their lives.
Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç said prosecutors have already started to look into whether the Israeli aggression against a Turkish ship would constitute a crime according to the Turkish Penal Code.
Turkey had earlier accused Israel of violating the international laws that prohibits countries from interfering in the navigation of ships on international waters. Some experts, however, argue, citing examples from the past, that not every instance of interference on international waters would necessarily mean a breach of the law.
“Countries could stop vessels at a reasonable distance in international waters if they believe that they could pose a security threat,” Hakan Hanlı, a senior attorney-at-law and an expert on international law, told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review on Tuesday. The lawyer, however, also criticized the way Israeli security forces handled the situation.
“The first thing Israel had to do, according to law, was to show themselves to the boats and inform them that they’re ready to interfere. Next, according to the same laws, they should have fired at the front of the boats to slow them down or change their course,” he said. “If the boat doesn’t stop, they are not to fire, but to come abreast of the boat with their own boat in order to change its course.”
In addition, Hanlı said, “the Israeli government should have contacted other countries, especially Turkey, to ensure that the country whose flag is flown on the boat contacts the captain and orders a change of course.” Israel, he added, did none of these things.
And the mood in Turkey is bound to keep getting worse:
Israel’s attack Monday on the humanitarian aid flotilla traveling to Gaza dominates the headlines of the Turkish print media Tuesday, competing only with a PKK assault on Turkish soldiers in İskenderun. Every publication, from the extreme right to the extreme left, blames Israel for its unlawful act, while some posit a link between the two attacks.
A Monday raid by Israeli commandos against a Gaza aid flotilla in the Mediterranean that resulted in the deaths of many civilians onboard elicited universal condemnation from the Turkish print media Tuesday.
The headlines of Turkish dailies all focused on the flotilla deaths, with many of the newspapers using similar language to describe the incident and the reaction to it.
While daily Hürriyet wrote, “The world on its feet,” daily Zaman chose “The whole world at its feet.” Daily Radikal’s “Bullets at humanity” resembled daily Cumhuriyet’s “Israel shot humanity.” Dailies Milliyet, Habertürk, Türkiye and Bugün all ran the exact same headline: “Government terrorism.”
Conservative and Islamist dailies were more extreme in their headlines, with Yeni Şafak referring to the “The children of Hitler” and Vakit to “Zionist dogs.” Taraf, which is not conservative but is noted for its anti-military stance, wrote, “Make them regret it.”
Meanwhile, the Palin fluffer Matt Continetti at the Weekly Standard has this to offer about who is to fault:
The most ominous aspect of the flotilla incident is Turkey’s involvement. The flotilla bound for Gaza, in violation of the blockade, was allowed to leave a Turkish port. The main sponsor was a Turkish charity known for ties to jihadist groups. The Turkish diplomatic and governmental apparatus sprung into action at the first sign of trouble — which of course there was, since the “peace activists” onboard the flotilla were masked and armed with lead pipes and knives.
Why is this troubling? Because Turkey is a member of NATO. It’s sought to join the European Union for years. For decades, it’s been a key military ally of the United States. Now it’s at the forefront of a global movement to delegitimize America’s ally Israel.
Meanwhile, anonymous reports in the Jerusalem Post show that some in the IDF learned a different lesson:
Israel will use more aggressive force in the future to prevent ships from breaking the sea blockade on the Gaza Strip, a top Navy commander told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday.
“We boarded the ship and were attacked as if it was a war,” the officer said. “That will mean that we will have to come prepared in the future as if it was a war.”
The anonymous comment came the day after the Israeli Navy raided a flotilla of international aid ships headed to the Strip. Nine activists were killed in the raid, and dozens were injured.
With more ships, including the Rachel Corrie, heading towards Gaza, this could rapidly escalate unless cooler heads win out. Meanwhile, Haaretz columnists are just having a complete field day bashing the Israeli government (according to the rules set forth by some of the Israel can do no wrong voices here in the comments, that must make them all self-hating anti-Semites). Just go to the Opinion page and keep scrolling.
I don’t see this ending any time soon, and if anyone has some answers to basic questions, I would love it:
1.) Why is the Israeli government simultaneously reporting that they knew all sorts of terrorists and unseemly types were on the ships but that their troops were unprepared for resistance? And since they have them all in custody, who exactly are the unseemly types?
2.) Why on earth did they send in commandos armed only with paintballs, as I have read somewhere. Does that make sense to anyone? Even on guard duty at the front gate of my barracks in Germany in the early 90’s, I carried live ammo, even if it had tape over it. But paintball guns on a commando raid? Seriously, wtf?
3.) Why did they attempt to go in at night via helicopter 70 miles out at sea, rather than use a more traditional manner of boarding during daylight hours and in Israeli water so there could be no questions about the legitimacy of the boarding?
If anything, I think the biggest hit to Israel is regarding the competence of her military and government. For the life of me, I do not understand why even rabidly pro-Israel supporters can not recognize what a disaster this is and will continue to be. The Netanyahu government has shot itself in the head, and now appears to be reloading. Has everyone gone mad?
I have a whole lot more questions like that, but I’ll save them for later.