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Turkey divided over flotilla violence

Turkey is divided over the Israeli Flotilla incident last week, according to the Wall Street Journal.  Opposition leaders and news organizations have questioned the government’s handling of the fallout, questioning the motives of politicians even before the event.

Opposition politicians and some newspaper columnists have expressed concern that the government has been riding public anger at Israel’s actions. That, they say, puts at risk Turkey’s delicate balance between East and West and allows the charity, the Humanitarian Relief Foundation, or IHH, to have a hand in determining the nation’s political agenda.

“The [European Union] and the U.S. consider Hamas as a terrorist organization. We should be careful,” Kemal Kilicdaroglu, head of the main opposition Republican People’s Party, told Turkish NTV television Monday, referring to the support the IHH and Turkey’s government have shown to Hamas. He also demanded the government release communications with Israel prior to the incident, suggesting it let the flotilla proceed despite knowing that violence was likely.

With media reports increasingly indicating that IDF forces fired live weapons only after being attacked by members of the “flotilla”, the Turkish government and its supporters are on increasingly shaky ground, both among its Western allies and within its own borders.  Reports have surfaced that some flotilla organizers were looking for a fight and are connected to terrorist organizations.

As opposition leaders and journalists report findings counter to the official story, they come under increasing threat.  Again from the Journal:

The religious conservative daily Vakit last week published on its front page the names and photographs of eight newspaper columnists who criticized the government’s handling of the flotilla case. The headline: “Spin doctors who shoot bullets at the aid ship.” A journalist whose photograph Vakit printed in similar circumstances in 1999 was assassinated.

Yet one of the most highly regarded religious leaders in Turkey, Fethullah Gülen, has stated his skepticism of the story provided by IHH, the official organizers of the flotilla.

Despite mounting evidence, the Turkish government and hardliners remain in support of the flotilla organizers.  Much of the Left in America and Europe stand with them.

Cross-posted at The Minority Report.

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