Erdogan to address pro-Palestinian rally on eve of Turkey’s centenary

ISTANBUL: President Tayyip Erdogan will be a part of on Saturday what is anticipated to be one of many largest pro-Palestinian rallies for the reason that Israel-Hamas warfare started, courting his Islamist political base a day forward of the centenary of Turkey‘s secular republic.
Political analysts mentioned his deliberate tackle in Istanbul aimed to bolster his rising criticism of Israel‘s bombardment of the Gaza Strip and to overshadow Sunday’s celebrations marking Turkey’s secular roots.
Turkey has condemned Israeli civilian deaths brought on by Hamas‘s Oct. 7 rampage by means of southern Israel, however Erdogan this week referred to as the militant group Palestinian “freedom fighters”.
He additionally criticised some Western nations’ unconditional assist for Jerusalem, drawing sharp rebukes from Italy and Israel.
Not like many NATO allies, the European Union and a few Gulf states, Turkey doesn’t take into account Hamas a terrorist organisation. It has lengthy hosted the Islamist group’s members, helps a two-state resolution and has provided to play a job in negotiating the discharge of hostages kidnapped through the Oct. 7 assault.
Sinan Ulgen, a former Turkish diplomat and director of the Centre for Financial and International Coverage Research, an Istanbul-based think-tank, mentioned Gaza’s worsening humanitarian disaster and stress from political allies had prompted Erdogan to sharpen his rhetoric.
Turkey “will defend its ideas and share these with the worldwide neighborhood, but it surely wants to do that with a extra delicate diplomacy if it expects to play such a (future) diplomatic function,” Ulgen mentioned.
The heads of Erdogan-allied nationalist and Islamist events – which helped him safe victory in tight Could elections – are anticipated to attend the rally at Istanbul’s previous airport. Some Turkish media reported a number of Arab leaders had been additionally invited.
Ataturk legacy
This week, Erdogan invited all Turks to attend the rally the place he mentioned “solely our flag and the Palestine flag will wave”. His Islamist-rooted AK Occasion predicted greater than 1,000,000 individuals would come.
Fashionable Turkey’s one centesimal anniversary comes on Sunday, when newspaper headlines might be dominated by information of the Saturday rally moderately than celebrations of the republic’s founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, analysts say.
Erdogan, Turkey’s longest-serving chief, and his Islamist-rooted AK Occasion have eroded assist for the Western-facing beliefs of Ataturk, who’s revered by most Turks. Lately, Erdogan’s portraits have emerged alongside that of Ataturk on authorities buildings and faculties.
“The symbolism is evident and nobody in Turkey is unaware of it – that the pro-Palestinian rally is more likely to overshadow celebrations for the centennial of the secular republic,” mentioned Asli Aydintasbas, visiting fellow on the Washington-based Brookings Establishment.
She mentioned that whereas Erdogan’s feedback about Hamas mirrored Ankara’s long-held place, he aimed to profit from anti-Israel sentiment domestically and “consolidate Turkey’s Sunni conservatives”.
The federal government has mentioned the Israel-Hamas battle is not going to curb celebrations of the one centesimal anniversary, for which it has organised occasions throughout the nation.

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