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Other translations from the Turkish opposition press on Israel’s offensive against Gaza

Other sample press translations from Turkish to English

The following article appeared in Evrensel on 9 April 2024. Translated from Turkish by Tim Drayton

Original article:

From the Mavi Marmara to handcuffing from behind!

Yusuf Karadaş

Debate continues over the harsh treatment meted out to the demonstration the “A Thousand Young People for Palestine“ initiative wished to stage in Istanbul İstiklal last weekend calling for the halting of trade relations with Israel. The police, acting violently against the protestors whose number included headscarfed women, arrested tens of people, handcuffing them from behind. Accusing the protestors of “provocation”, the ruling party and its media proclaimed the protestors to be FETOists or even Mossad agents. When it emerged that the headscarfed young women Evra and Bayza Akyüz, accused by the ruling party media of being Mossad agents, were the daughters of Cengiz Akyüz who was killed by Israel on the Mavi Marmara ferry in 2010, it was actually the Erdoğan regime that was caught red handed.

Developments leading from the ”One minute“ and Mavi Marmara events to the handcuffing from behind of those protesting trade relations with Israel provide a graphic portrayal of the road the ruling party has travelled on the Palestinian cause and relations with Israel.

Back when the Erdoğan regime was embracing neo-Ottomanist policies under the name of “strategic depth” and was striving for greater clout in the Middle East inspired by expansionist ambitions, Erdoğan created quite a stir with his words, “You know how to kill very well“ that he uttered to Israeli President Shimon Peres at the 2009 Davos summit. These words turned Erdoğan into a leader whose posters were carried throughout Palestine and the Arab countries – an outcome that also accorded with the regional position and roles that the Obama administration in the USA had fashioned for Turkey at that time.

It was in such a political climate and with the ruling party’s support that the İHH (Humanitarian Aid Foundation) assembled a fleet in 2010 to send humanitarian aid to blockaded Gaza. Indeed, when in 2014 he said, “We permitted the Mavi Marmara”, Erdoğan acknowledged the ruling party’s role in this process. Ten lives were lost in Israel’s attack on the aid fleet destined for Gaza and this incident has passed into history as the “Mavi Marmara incident”.

Then, as now, even if political relations with Israel were suspended, trade and military agreements continued unabated.

However, in 2011 the role it assumed in first the Libyan and then Syrian war ushered in events that saw a gradual reversal of the Erdoğan regime’s image in the region. This is because the aim of the Syrian war, which the Erdoğan regime embarked on under the support and leadership of the USA and Western imperialists, was the encirclement and defanging of Iran and the Lebanese Hizbollah concomitant with the toppling of the Assad regime in Syria and the bolstering of Israel’s security as the Palestinian cause was also isolated.

Despite the failure of regime change in Syria and the foiling of the hoped-for proclamation of leadership of the Sunni Islam in the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus, the Erdoğan regime maintained its cooperation with radical Islamist groups in the region, especially Syria and Libya, in pursuit of its expansionist ambitions and occupations. The existence of radical Islamist groups, particularly al-Nusra (HTS), was also a policy supported by Israel, wishing for tension, conflict and instability to continue in the region – and Israel was trying to further this policy by sending support dubbed “humanitarian aid” to such groups. It is common knowledge that US Special Representative for Syria Jeffrey also subsequently came out in approval of this policy in saying, “They are focused on fighting the Assad regime” with reference to the HTS in Idlib.

The political tension between Turkey and Israel actually started to abate back in 2013 with Obama’s intervention and Israeli Prime-Minister Netanyahu’s “apologetic phone call” to Erdoğan, and relations were “normalized” under the agreement that was concluded in 2016. The Erdoğan regime set the conditions of “Apology, compensation and ending the blockade on Gaza” for normalization of relations. However, apart from the payment of 20 million dollars in compensation to those who lost relatives on the Mavi Marmara, the condition of lifting the blockade on Gaza by way of “loosening the blockade” was abandoned. So, this agreement, notwithstanding the efforts to create an impression to the contrary, was tantamount to the Erdoğan regime’s approval of Israel’s blockade and assaults against Gaza, or, in other words, the public sell-out of the Palestinian cause.

Erdoğan, having previously exploited the Mavi Marmara incident for both regional policy and domestic political propaganda ends, now turned round and snarled, “Did you ask me when you were going? ” at the families who had lost relatives on the Mavi Marmara and the İHH, who were expressing dissatisfaction with the agreement.

Although the 2016 coup attempt and competition in the Eastern Mediterranean once again escalated tension between the two countries, it was once more the Erdoğan regime, in common with other regional countries above all the UAE and Saudi Arabia, that stepped forward to “renormalize” relations with Israel spurred on by political and economic difficulties and diplomatic relations were restored to top level with Israeli President Herzog’s visit to Turkey in 2022.

As everyone knows, this process was followed by the attack named the Al-Aqsa Storm Hamas launched against Israel from blockaded Gaza and Israel’s occupation and massacres that have seen no let-up since that day.

Israel’s occupation and massacres targeting Gaza have sparked off a huge reaction throughout the world: President Erdoğan declared a holy war for Gaza and his partner Bahçeli chimed in, “If I don’t set out on the road for Gaza shame on me” at a rally held in support of Gaza. However, while the ruling block keeps up such propaganda so as to take popular sensitivity over the Palestinian cause in its tow, the monopolies closest to the ruling party have continued to maintain commercial relations with Israel and even supply logistic support as Israel carries out genocide in Gaza. Journalist Metin Cihan in particular has played a sterling role at this time in exposing this criminal partnership by publishing many documents that substantiate the commercial relationships with Israel of the ruling block and capital groups that support it from Eti Maden, one of the Erdoğan-affiliated “Wealth Fund” companies, to MHP Deputy Hilmi Durgun’s company.

The very demonstration in İstiklal about which the ruling party and its media are trying to concoct “conspiracy theories” (and in this respect Istanbul Governor Davut Gül’s characterization of this action as a “fifth-column activity” demands emphasis) and which came to public attention through police violence was held with the demand that trade relations with Israel be halted. Indeed, what was so troubling for the ruling party was the protestors with head-scarf wearers among their midst calling out the ruling party’s duplicitous policy of continuing trade relations with Israel that contradicts its rhetoric.

On contemplation of the Erdoğan regime’s approach to the Palestinian problem and relations with Israel from the “One minute” and Mavi Marmara events to the handcuffing from behind of those protesting trade relations with Israel, it can be said that the Palestinian cause and just now relations with Hamas have for the Erdoğan regime never gone beyond being a bargaining chip in its regional ambitions and, in domestic politics, an instrument it has used for hitching poplar support for the Palestinian people behind its policies. What is so galling for the ruling party and its media is that the cat is out of the bag and this truth cannot be concealed.

Archive of Turkish press translations by Tim Drayton