The Bitter Irony of Turkey’s Gaza Stance

Okay, maybe hypocrisy might be a better word than irony. I mentioned in the immediate aftermath of the Gaza flotilla assault that Turkey’s credibility on Israel’s Gaza policy is undermined by its own past and present military campaign against the Kurdish PKK terrorist/militant group camped out in northern Iraq’s Qandil Mountains. According to this article from Le Figaro, civilian deaths resulting from that campaign number in the several thousands, although the article (which focuses on Iran’s recent military strikes against a related Kurdish outfit) does not specify a timeframe.

Now, in response to the PKK’s yearly spring/summer spike in bombings and attacks, the Turkish political and military leadership is, not surprisingly, playing to domestic opinion with a show of force — one that includes the use of recently delivered Israeli-made Heron UAV drones over the Qandil Mountains.

The point here is not to argue the merits of either Turkey’s cross-border campaign against the PKK or Israel’s quasi-cross-border campaign against Hamas — and even less so the advisability of the Israeli response to the Gaza flotilla. These are tough decisions in which the sovereign responsibility of a state to defend its population must be constrained by moral and legal norms, and balanced by the potential impact of global opinion.

But those decisions are not rendered any easier when governments engage in opportunistic and cherry-picked moral outrage. And that’s even more the case when the government in question could actually be a central player in effectively and sustainably addressing the problem, rather than exacerbating it.