Post details: The real reasons Turkey stopped the Mavi Marmara sailing to Gaza last June

The real reasons Turkey stopped the Mavi Marmara sailing to Gaza last June

English (US)  September 4th, 2011 by admin ( Email )

By Ali Abunimah on Sat, 09/03/2011

Last June, as the Gaza Freedom Flotilla 2 was preparing its attempt to break the illegal Israeli siege of Gaza, many were dismayed when the Mavi Marmara was withdrawn from the flotilla. Why did this happen?

The Mavi Marmara is the Turkish-operated ship that Israel attacked on 31 May 2010 in international waters during the previous flotilla, killing 9 people and injuring dozens more.

Israel’s refusal to apologize for the attack, and to meet other Turkish demands led to yesterday’s unprecedented sanctions by the Turkish government.

In the wake of a deeply flawed, biased and non-credible UN report justifying the Israeli siege of Gaza and whitewashing the Israeli attack, Turkey has downgraded diplomatic relations with Israel to the lowest level, suspended all military agreements between the countries, and vowed to take other measures to seek justice for the victims of the Israeli attack and to challenge the Israeli siege.

Although the Mavi Marmara was operated by the independent charity IHH, it seems highly likely that the decision to withdraw from the flotilla in June was taken at the suggestion of the Turkish government. The reasons given publicly for withdrawing the ship were “technical.”

We cannot know what private communications may have taken place, but in early June Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu publicly suggested that the flotilla organizers should “rethink” their plan to break the siege by sea. Whether the decision was at the behest of the Turkish government or not, it suited its needs at the time. Why?

At the time many observers – myself included – feared that Turkey was softening its stance toward Israel and seeking to “mend fences” without Turkey’s demands being met.

The suspicions of many were encapsulated in a drawing by celebrated political cartoonist Carlos Latuff that showed Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan declaring “I love Palestine” to win votes in the Turkish general election, while his shadow shakes hands with Israel.

Many were convinced that the withdrawal of the Mavi Marmara meant Turkey’s policy was no different from the abject complicity of Greece, which worked hand in glove with Israel, to prevent the remaining flotilla ships from reaching Gaza.

It is now clear that this analysis was wrong. For one thing, Turkish-Israel relations featured little in the June Turkish election campaign, and if Turkey’s stance was about winning votes, the government would presumably have announced its measures against Israel before the election rather than months afterwards.

Read the full story at Electronic Intifada

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