IHH reconsidering flotilla over 'regional developments'

Flotilla spokesman says possible int'l intervention in Syria would affect "peace in the region"; says goal is "not to set sail to Gaza."

June 15, 2011 16:44
2 minute read.
The 'Mavi Marmara'

The 'Mavi Marmara' 311 (R). (photo credit: Reuters/Emrah Dalkaya)


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A growing refugee crisis in southern Turkey has driven a Turkish NGO to reconsider its participation in the Gaza flotilla, the Turkish daily Hurriyet reported on Wednesday.

“We are reconsidering our plans. We cannot close our eyes to the developments on our doorstep,” Hurriyet quoted Humanitarian Relief Foundation or İHH spokesman as saying.

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Oruc told Hurriyet “we are reconsidering our plans. The international community is talking about an intervention in Syria, a development that would affect Turkey very much, as well as Palestine and peace in the region. All the factors are inter-linked and we must be looking at all of them."

“We will discuss the emerging conditions. Every country has its own balance. From our point of view, the developments in neighboring Syria are critically important,” Oruc added.

Hurriyet also said that the IHH has stated that the Turkish government did not force their hand in the decision.

As of early this week, between five and ten thousand Syrian refugees had streamed into southern Turkey as the Assad regime stepped up its violent crackdown of the popular uprising that broke out in March. Turkey has vowed to continue to help the refugees, but there are indications that they are anxious for the international community to help find a solution to the issue.

The IHH's reluctance puts in question whether or not the SS Mavi Marmara will end up sailing for Gaza in late June as was originally planned. Though as many as 22 ships are reportedly planning to set sail for Gaza carrying humanitarian aid, the Mavi Marmara is of great symbolic significance to the effort because it was the site of clashes on the first flotilla in May 2010 between Israeli Navy SEALS and activists that left 9 Turkish citizens dead.

Oruc said the IHH would make a decision by the end of the week and that "our goal is not to set sail to Gaza. We think we can serve the purpose by sending a ship or canceling it.”

Egypt's opening of the Rafah border crossing with Gaza has also caused many in the international community to question the necessity of the humanitarian aid flotilla, though activists have vowed to sail to Gaza regardless.

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