Turkey, Israel Determined to Leave Mavi Marmara Behind

Will Israel’s March 22 apology and the April 22 start of compensation negotiations for the deaths of nine Turks aboard the Mavi Marmara affect Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s approach to the Middle East?

First of all, while Turkey and Israel appear determined to put the Mavi Marmara incident behind them, it will take years to see a normalization of relations, and there is no guarantee that the two sides will ever trust one other like they used to. The fact of the matter is that although Turkey had set an apology from Israel as a precondition for reestablishing full relations, the Erdogan government had an already established mindset about relations with Israel even before the incident. The Justice and Development Party (AKP) government has been fiercely critical of the previous Turkish governments for their close military and diplomatic cooperation with Israel, while also accusing them of turning their backs to and looking down on the Arab states.

“We wanted to erase the stereotype in the public that nothing good comes out of dealing with the Arabs,” a Turkish Foreign Ministry official told Al-Monitor. He was referring to the long-held psychological baggage of Turks, as the “legitimate inheritors” of the Ottoman Empire, having lost a massive amount of its land by the end of World War I, with the Arabs having “stabbed them in the back” by siding with their enemies.

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Categories: Al-Monitor