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Erdogan’s Planned Gaza Visit Counterproductive to Turkey’s Long-Term Goals

Monday, May 6, 2013

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s upcoming visit to the Gaza Strip, tentatively set for later this month, is proving to be yet another test for Ankara’s Middle East policy, which has been battered by the regional upheaval of the past two years. While Erdogan has long wanted to make an official trip to Hamas-ruled Gaza, he has also been receiving strong messages from the United States, as well as the Palestinians’ Fatah faction, to put the visit off.

With Erdogan insisting that the trip will take place as planned, the Gaza visit is becoming an increasingly high-stakes venture for Ankara, which must prove that its Palestine policy is driven by constructive pragmatism rather than emotion and ideology, and that it can contribute more than just dramatic gestures to efforts to unblock the multisided political stalemate. Failure to do so would likely undermine Ankara’s efforts to promote itself as a regional player that can serve as a broker between rival Palestinian factions as well as between Israel and Hamas. An overtly ideological trip to Gaza could also create friction between Ankara and Washington and put added strain on the recently launched reconciliation process between Turkey and Israel. ...

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