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The secret codes of the Mavi Marmara 20 juin 2011

Posted by Acturca in Middle East / Moyen Orient, Turkey / Turquie.
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Milliyet (Turkey) 20 June 2011                                        Türkçe

Semih Idiz

There is no surprise in the reports that the Mavi Marmara is not going to be included in the international flotilla that is expected to set sail soon in order to break the Israeli blockade against Gaza. An effort is now being made for the matter to be explained with « technical reasons, » but I am one of those who believe that there are very different reasons involved in the affair.

If something is emphatically denied, we can then conclude that there are certain reasons for it. IHH [International Humanitarian Relief] officials are saying insistently that there was no government pressure in the fact that the Mavi Marmara is not going to take part in the flotilla. I think otherwise.

But the appearance that « it exerted pressure and hindered the ship » does not suit the interests of the government, either. Because then the question will come up of « why, then, was the first flotilla, which ended in the deaths of nine Turks, not stopped? »

Also involved in the affair is the  « Fethullah Gulen » dimension. Gulen had made it openly clear that he did not approve of the Mavi Marmara’s attempt to break the Gaza blockade last year. For some reason, not too much attention is being given to this point in Islamic circles.

During last year’s Mavi Marmara crisis, I was at the annual conference of Turkish and German journalists that was hosted in Antalya by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation. There were people among us who had organic connections with the AKP [Justice and Development Party]. Gulen’s statement created a shock impact on them. Saying that « a denial will come, » they waited in vain for this.

Additionally, I also know members of the Turkish Industrialists’ and Businessmen’s Confederation (TUSKON) who considered it « wrong » that the Mavi Marmara was going to go to Gaza this time as well.

Feiler’s Words…

The closeness of this confederation, whose star has been shining in recent years, to the Gulen movement is frequently spoken of.

In short, the « rationality » of the Mavi Marmara’s second initiative has been questioned even by Islamic circles that are familiar with the world. And there are also the words of the Swedish representative of the Gaza flotilla that is expected to set sail shortly, Dror Feiler.

According to Feiler, the fact that the Mavi Marmara is not going to participate in the flotilla « will also thwart the claim, that Israel has been putting forth for quite some time, that the flotilla is a project only of Turks and Islamists. » We can also read these words in the other direction.

That is, it is also possible to conclude that the Western representatives on the flotilla are unhappy at the international perception, successfully spread by Israel, that the effort to break the Gaza blockade is a project only of Turks and Islamists.

On the other hand, the Turkish Red Crescent Society has also gotten involved in the affair. In the statement made from Israel, it was stated that permission had been granted to the Red Crescent Society to bring every sort of necessary medical supplies to Gaza via the Erez transit point. If the Red Crescent Society is able to bring these supplies into Gaza, then the argument of IHH that « we are bringing urgent aid » is vitiated.

This being the case, in the event of the Mavi Marmara’s taking part in the flotilla, the arguments that this had a political purpose would be strengthened. As for believing that the AKP government did not contribute to the development of the Red Crescent dimension of the affair, this is difficult.

Repairing Relations Difficult

And finally, there are the developments in Syria. While the savagery there continues at a great pace, and while the IHH, which is a humanitarian aid organization, ought to rush to the Turkish-Syrian border with all its resources, its insisting on the Gaza issue would not have provided a very good image from its own standpoint.

Natur ally, there were also other « technical issues » in the affair, which also benefited the government. No international insurance company, for instance, would issue insurance to the Mavi Marmara under these circumstances. And for this reason, no services would be provided to the ship in any international port. And Ankara would not allow an uninsured ship flying the Turkish flag to set sail into the open seas with hundreds of Turkish citizens aboard.

In the final analysis, even if some IHH members are going to take part in the Gaza flotilla, the fact that the Mavi Marmara is not going to sail has ended up heading off an untimely and unnecessary new crisis from the standpoint of Turkey, which has responsibilities towards the region that have been growing with every passing day.

Well, might these developments improve the Turkish-Israeli relationship? I do not think so, because there still remains the Turkish blood that has been shed. As long as Israel does not somehow render an accounting for this, the relations will not improve. As for Israel, it is being obstinate on this issue, and is not giving any signals of backing down.

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