Turkey's Loyalties May Be Shifting
MELISSA BLOCK, host:
Israel's attack on the flotilla attempting to break the blockade of Gaza has ruptured its once strong relationship with Turkey. The episode has also added to the strains in Turkey's relationship with the U.S.
Here's NPR's senior news analyst Daniel Schorr.
DANIEL SCHORR: Turkey has manifestly come unstuck from its loyalty to America and the Western alliance. Back in 1950, Turks fought side by side with Americans in Korea. And more recently, Turkey entered into military arrangements with Israel, the only Islamic country to do so.
Turkish diplomats even tried to broker better relations between Israel and Syria. The impetus for this came from the Turkish military command, which sometimes had to override the more Islamic-minded civilian officials.
But two recent issues have imposed a strain on Turkey's moderate policy that may be too difficult to sustain. The first was Turkey's decision to join with Brazil in offering Iran a compromise deal on this nuclear program. It involved a complicated swap of enriched uranium, short of what the American-led sanctions coalition demanded.
The Turkish intervention as the United Nations Security Council was moving towards this vote today was something the United States needed like a hole in the head. Even less welcome was Turkey's tacit support of the six-ship flotilla that sought to break the Israeli blockade of Gaza, leading to a clash in which nine men were killed, one of them with dual American citizenship.
In Turkey, that has made the Gaza blockade an issue for the streets. For the government, efforts to mediate between Israel and the Arab world are off for the foreseeable future and Turkey's support of efforts to contain Iran are in doubt.
Whatever Israel's commandos may have accomplished in blockading Gaza, the cost in the closest friendship Israel had in the Muslim world is bound to be high.
This is Daniel Schorr.