July 11, 2011 Special Dispatch No. 3987

Hamas Columnists: Turkey-Hamas Relationship Characterized by 'Love'

July 11, 2011
Turkey | Special Dispatch No. 3987

The Hamas-associated press has lately been publishing numerous articles in praise of Turkey and its prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose party won the June 2011 Turkish parliamentary elections. It should be noted that since the events of the June 2010 Freedom Flotilla, Erdogan has been viewed in the Arab press as a champion of the struggle against the Gaza siege and as a promoter of Turkish-Palestinian relations. This impression became even stronger after, in his victory speech, he mentioned Ramallah, Gaza, and Jerusalem.[1] Erdogan has also been active in promoting the Hamas-Fatah reconciliation, along with Egyptian leaders.[2]

The Hamas-affiliated daily Falastin recently published several articles that praised Turkey, stressing its warm relations with Hamas and the similarity of Hamas's and Turkey's positions. One article stated that Turkey, like Hamas, has turned toward the Arab and Muslim world instead of the West. The articles also emphasized that Turkey benefits from championing the Palestinian cause; for example, it was claimed that Erdogan's support of the Freedom Flotilla contributed to his victory in the elections.

A different opinion was expressed by 'Abd Al-Sattar Qassem, an intellectual close to Hamas. Writing on a Hamas-affiliated website, he warned that it was wrong to pin too many hopes on Turkey, which is a member of NATO and has recognized Israel.

The following are excerpts from the articles:

Turkey Is Turning to the Arab and Muslim World as an Alternative to the West

An article in the Gazan daily Falastin described the relations between Hamas and Turkey as relations of "love," and emphasized the similarity of their policies: "Love lends politics a different taste. Love places interests in second place. The message conveyed [to Hamas] by [Turkish Prime Minister] Recep Tayyip Erdogan was a message of love, and [Hamas Prime Minister] Isma'il Haniya's phone conversation [with Erdogan], in which he congratulated [the Turkish prime minister on his electoral victory], was likewise a message of love and loyalty. How nice that [Erdogan's] Justice and Development Party won the elections for the third time. How nice that it won the trust of the great Turkish nation. How nice that it won 50% of the vote. But the nicest thing for us Palestinians, and especially for us besieged Gazans, is that Gaza was part of Erdogan's victory speech, which he gave after the results became known.

"Gaza was part of the speech, as well as the Middle East [at large]. This hints at the strategy of the Turkish Justice and Development Party: it sees the Arab and Muslim Middle East as an alternative to the E.U., which has turned its back on [Turkey], regarding itself as a [club] for Christian countries only. The strategy of [turning to] the Middle East is a positive and productive alternative, which forms a vital component of the efforts to throw off the yoke of the West and [escape] the domination of Western culture and interests over the Middle East. The Arab east, of which Turkey is a part, was once the leading [region] in the world... and the cradle of civilization, with influence over all of mankind on all five continents.

"Hamas and Gaza endorse the same strategy [of relying on] the Arab and Muslim depth, especially since Palestine and Hamas are dear to the hearts of the Arab and Muslim millions. This gives us hope that revival is on its way...

"The victory of the Justice and Development Party pleased us, and our pleasure angered our enemy [namely Israel]... [Israel] sensed that part of its foreign policy had shattered on board the Marmara, which revealed the truth and caused the Turkish people to rally around Erdogan and his party..."[3]

Turkey Agrees with Many of Hamas's Policies

Another article in the same daily described Turkey's support for Hamas in the Palestinian reconciliation process: "Turkey refuses to pressure or blackmail Hamas, because it has an astute understanding of the situation. Its outlook is no different from that of Hamas, yet it also understands the perception and policy of [PA President] Mahmoud 'Abbas, his contacts, his way of handling the Palestinian cause, and his disagreements with Hamas and with the Turkish government...

"Possibly, one of the goals of [Hamas Political Bureau head] Khaled Mash'al in visiting Turkey is to urge the Turkish prime minister, now that he has won the elections, to establish open relations with Hamas – especially since the Turkish government promised to establish such relations after the elections... We believe that the next phase will see a new position on the part of the Erdogan government, which is drawing close to the Palestinian cause and agrees with many of Hamas's policies...

"Turkey is expected to play a key role in the [inter-Palestinian] reconciliation... [especially] considering the vacuum in the regional leadership and Turkey's desire to play a leading role in the Arab and Muslim [world]. The Palestinian cause can be [its] gateway [to achieving this role]. It should be noted that Turkey... will not blackmail either of the Palestinian sides, but will work to create a kind of equilibrium between the [Palestinian] forces, in order to preserve both the Palestinians' rights and their various interests."[4]

Turkey Does Not Deviate from the World Order Imposed by the U.S and Israel

A differing position was presented by 'Abd Al-Sattar Qassem, a political science professor at Al-Najah University in Nablus, who is close to Hamas, on a website associated with the movement. Qassem said that the Palestinians should not pin their hopes on Turkey, which is part of the world order that is run by the U.S. and serves Israel to the detriment of the Palestinians. In addition, he implicitly criticized the PA for failing to promote the Palestinian rights:

"The Arab citizen is 'thirsty.' He is constantly searching for something or someone that can relieve his thirst, even a little. When he notices a [glimmer] of hope on the horizon, he runs toward it screaming and crying for help, hoping that it isn't a mirage. The Arab citizen is the most degraded of people... He yearns [to receive a little] respect, to feel that [his sense of] defeat has lifted a little, and to relax as other people do...

"Today, Turkey's prime minister heads the roster of heroes who are rescuing the Arab citizen and saving him from incurable, humiliating torture... [But] the Arabs should not hope for much from Turkey, for several reasons...

"In all their previous statements, words, and deeds, the Turkish [officials] did not deviate from the world order imposed by the U.S., and often by Israel... This world order recognizes Israel and its right to exist, and is prepared to defend it if it faces existential danger. At the same time, this order does not recognize the [Palestinian] refugees' right of return, and their right to [wage] armed resistance. Nor does it recognize the establishment of a true, independent [Palestinian] state that can defend itself...

"Turkey still recognizes the Zionist entity, is still a member of NATO, and is still trying to join the European Union. Recognizing the rights of the Palestinians and defending them are incompatible with this situation. [Furthermore], Turkey is trying to mend its relations with Israel, and to restore them to their past state before the Davos Conference [when Erdogan walked out after a confrontation with Israeli President Shimon Peres] and the first Freedom Flotilla [in 2010]... [In addition], the Turkish foreign minister asked Hamas to recognize Israel, thus attempting to get all Palestinians to relinquish their national positions in favor of the Zionist entity...

"I do not believe Turkey wants to be more Palestinian than the Palestinians, or more Arab than the Arabs. Those who undervalue their rights have no right to ask others to fight their wars... Thank you, Turkey. Despite [all this], Turkey's position on the war against Gaza and the ongoing suffering of Gazans is better than many Palestinian and Arab positions... Thank you, [Turkey, but you] need not fight my battle."[5]


[1] Erdogan said: "The real winner [in the elections] is Turkey... and all oppressed peoples… Sarajevo has won as much as Istanbul; Beirut as much as Izmir; Ramallah, Nablus, Jenin, the West Bank, Gaza and Al-Quds (Jerusalem) as much as Diyarbakir." Hurriyet (Turkey), June 12, 2011.

[2] Hamas Political Bureau head Khaled Mash'al and PA President Mahmoud 'Abbas recently made (separate) visits to Turkey, presumably to discuss the reconciliation. Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London), June 23, 2011.

[3] Falastin (Gaza), June 18, 2011.

[4] Falastin (Gaza), June 24, 2011.

[5], June 27, 2011.

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