Why is Erdoğan siding with Hamas?

First he presented himself as a potential mediator between Israel and Hamas, then Turkey's President Erdoğan described Israel as a "war criminal" and Hamas as a "group of liberators". Commentators debate what consequences this stance could and should have.

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Politis (CY) /

Double standards

Politis columnist Şener Levent wishes more criticism was levelled at Ankara:

“We call Israel an occupying force. We do not call Turkey one. We call Israel barbaric for oppressing the Palestinians yet we do not raise our voices when Turkey oppresses the Kurds. We show solidarity with the Palestinians in Israeli prisons yet we don't lift a finger for the political prisoners in Turkish prisons. We defend the right of the Palestinians to return to their land yet we don't defend the right of ousted Greek Cypriots to return to theirs. ... We don't even demand the human rights that we demand for the Palestinians for ourselves.”

Duma (BG) /

Not as lenient with Kurdish organisations

Duma also sees Erdoğan's remarks are incoherent.

“Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's explanation feels like an errant missile which will backfire. ... It's time for him to perform some verbal gymnastics and declare that the PKK is also not a terrorist but a liberation organisation which is defending Kurdish land and fighting for independence. It may be true that the PKK and their Syrian branch are carrying out attacks and claiming innocent lives, but if Erdoğan thinks that the means justify the ends for Hamas, then he should apply the same principle to the PKK.”

Večernji list (HR) /

Strategic concern for the Palestinians

Erdoğan is running with the hare and hunting with the hounds, Večernji list remarks:

“Erdoğan maintains excellent relations with Hamas since his AK Party and Hamas share the same Muslim Brotherhood ideology. ... He wants to take this opportunity to prove that he is a great leader of all Muslims and to show that along with Iran he is the one who cares most about the Palestinians. It is well known that pro-Iranian militant organisations are attacking US interests in Syria and Iraq. And the mighty Erdoğan is vying with Iran for the sympathies of Muslims in his support of Palestine, while at the same time insisting that Turkey is part of Nato and as such is also important in the Western world.”

Mladá fronta dnes (CZ) /

Pure pragmatism

For Mladá fronta dnes the Turkish president is not guided by ideological principles:

“No, Erdoğan is not really a supporter of Hamas. He is a pragmatist who had already strengthened relations with Israel in September knowing full well that this could work to his advantage. ... Now that the streets of Muslim countries, including Turkey, are flooded with people demanding retaliation against Israel, the president has no choice but to howl with the wolves. ... And Erdoğan also has his 'terrorists', as he calls the Kurds, whom he treats even worse than Israel treats the Palestinians. Don't they have the right to self-determination and their own state? Erdoğan applies double standards and cleverly aligns with the side that strengthens his power.”

Zeit Online (DE) /

Nato can no longer accept this

Erdoğan's actions must also have consequences for Nato, Zeit Online insists:

“We must relinquish the idea that Turkey sees itself as part of an alliance. That as a member of Nato it stands unconditionally by the defence alliance with all its values, even in crises like this one. Turkey and its president have a purely strategic relationship with Nato and the West. It is the declared aim of their foreign policy to be able to maintain independent relations with various partners at all times - always according to their own interests. Even with Hamas. Nato can no longer accept this.”

Die Welt (DE) /

Break with Ankara not an option

Die Welt explains why Turkey is too important for Nato to break ties with it:

“Ankara supplied Ukraine with weapons before any other Nato country. It restricted access for Russian ships to the Black Sea because of the Ukraine war, brokered grain deals between Kyiv and Moscow and prevented the internationally recognised government in Libya from buckling under rebel pressure. Ankara also shares vital intelligence with Washington on Russia and Iran. In addition, Turkey plays host to a Nato headquarters, two air bases and an early warning radar system that is vital for the alliance.”

Radio Kommersant FM (RU) /

Competing for the lead role in the Muslim world

Radio Kommersant FM also sees a trial of strength in the Islamic world playing out in the background of the Gaza conflict:

“Turkey, Iran and Saudi Arabia have always fought with each other over who leads the Islamic world. ... A solution to the Gaza problem could be a serious bid for victory for all of them. It is well known that the Palestine issue is almost the only thing on which the Islamic world is united. For Iran, of course, it would be best to leave things as they are. Its strategy is chaos and support for various terrorist groups. But the Turks and Saudis would be happy to act as organisers and guarantors of a flourishing Gaza Strip. These efforts explain Erdoğan's threats.”

Die Welt (DE) /

Expel Turkish state imams

This must have consequences for Germany's dealings with Turkey, the Welt makes clear:

“A first appropriate response would be to terminate the cooperation with the Turkish religious authority Diyanet that was agreed upon in the 1980s and to expel the approximately one thousand imams who work as officials of the Turkish state at the mosques of the Ditib association. ... Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the state, wanted nothing less for the Turkish Republic than for it to attain the 'level of contemporary civilisation' and even surpass it. A century later, Erdogan places Turkey not only outside the West, but also outside the civilised world.”

Visão (PT) /

All trust has been squandered

Erdoğan can no longer be relied on, Visão observes:

“First with Ukraine and now with Israel, there is a growing sense of total mistrust regarding his political and military alignment. Turkey is a very powerful and important country for the West, but Erdoğan cannot be trusted. ... He is becoming more and more unreliable. If Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty were invoked, Erdoğan (not to be confused with Turkey) would be the first to revolt and leave Nato. He refuses to allow certain Turks to seek refuge in Sweden yet offers refuge to illustrious members of 'liberation movements' such as Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad and an endless list of other terrorist organisations.”

republica.ro (RO) /

Incitement against the West

Erdoğan is getting the Muslim community worked up, says republica.ro:

“Turkey will not send troops to Gaza, it will not attack Israel, but Muslims all the way from Pakistan to America have now mobilised. ... Erdoğan is relying on the transnational, global connections between Muslims. He is trying to get the Muslim population to rise up against the West, but also against moderate Arab leaders, like those of Egypt and Jordan or even the Palestinian Authority.”