Turkey PM Erdogan 311.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
WASHINGTON – Turkish media reports have exposed increased tensions between the
US and Turkey in recent days, with disagreements flaring over the Gaza flotilla
incident and efforts to stop Iran’s nuclear program.
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Earlier this week,
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan bashed the US for not taking more
action following the death of a Turkish-American dual citizen in Israel’s raid
on a Turkish-flagged ship attempting to break the blockade of the
Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.
“It is significant that the US
administration has not taken action regarding Furkan Dogan. We expect them to
follow this case,” Erdogan was quoted as saying. “Are you not defending Furkan’s
rights because he was Turkish?” In response, US Ambassador to Turkey James
Jeffrey told the Turkish newspaper Zaman
that the US was concerned about Dogan’s
case but took umbrage at Erdogan’s remarks.
“If the press report is true,
we – the United States and I – personally find it deeply disappointing
worrying,” he was quoted as saying.
He went on to chide Turkey for not
being more helpful with the investigation, and providing the autopsy
the deaths to the Turkish group IHH, which participated in the flotilla,
to the United States, according to media accounts.
“We requested it from
the Turkish authorities many times, most recently on July 7,” he
said. “We find it difficult to understand why we can’t have the autopsy
despite our requests while IHH already has been given it.”
A State Department official said Thursday that Turkey had subsequently
provided the autopsy reports.
The tensions come
shortly after US President Barack Obama warmly received Prime Minister
Netanyahu at the White House last week, a meeting that was originally
for the day after the flotilla incident occurred. Netanyahu cancelled to
to Israel in the wake of the raid.
Israeli analysts have assessed the
tense exchange between Erdogan and American officials stems at least in
from ire on the part of the former at Netanyahu’s friendly reception
flotilla incident has yet to be resolved.
Turkish-Israel ties have been
in a tailspin since the incident took place in late May, with Turkey
its ambassador, cancelling joint military exercises and threatening a
off of ties if Israel doesn’t apologize for the incident and take other
Jerusalem has ruled out.
The US has talked to both countries about
cooling down the rhetoric and finding a way to mend relations. The issue
during the Obama-Netanyahu meeting, amidst indications that Turkey was
dissatisfied that the US didn’t press Israel harder on the issue.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton held a 45-minute call with Turkish
Minister Ahmet Davutoglu Monday in which “the Secretary encouraged the
minister to continue important dialogue with Israel because that
remains a vitally important one to the future of the region,” according
Department Spokesman P.J. Crowley.
After the call, Turkish media also
reported that Clinton had urged Ankara to stop negotiating with Iran
nuclear program, which Erdogan then denied.
While many countries reacted
with outrage and anger at Israel’s actions over the flotilla, political
in the US have been more understanding of Israel’s perspective, and
members of Congress have warned Turkey to reassess its behavior.
have also called for an investigation and potential designation of the
Turkish aid group whose members were involved in the deadly
Israel, as a terrorist organization.
The State Department has
acknowledged contacts the IHH has had with Hamas, which is on the US
list, but said no decision had been made about its designation.
believe we’re looking at the IHH, but it’s a long process to designate
organization a Foreign Terrorist Organization and there’s nothing to
that,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner said last week.