Michael Totten interviews Claire Berlinski on Turkey...
An essential interview...
MJT: What’s up with this second Turkish flotilla to Gaza? Surely the government knows about it if you and I know about it, and the government clearly did not try to stop it. What is Ankara hoping to achieve with this stunt?
The blockade-busting Mavi Marmara
Claire Berlinski: Of course Ankara knows about it. The government is hoping to keep this whole issue from blowing up in its face before the election, and plans to think about it afterwards–right now it’s dealing with a head-spinning number of domestic and foreign policy crises, and I mean crises. The flotilla is on page 60 of their list of “emergencies to worry about.” I wrote about this here and here, and I don’t think I can put it better:
They let that genie out of the bottle. They’ve got no idea how to stuff it back in. Davutoğlu pretty much admitted this a couple days ago: No, he said, the government would not try to stop the new flotilla, because it couldn’t:
The government also refuses to pressure İHH to stop the new flotilla, saying it is a civilian initiative and, as a democratic country, it cannot intervene in the decisions of civil society groups.
“It is an Orientalist belief that nongovernmental groups in Turkey move when they are told by the state to move and stop when they are told to do so,” he said.
Do not be skeptical: I suspect he’s telling the truth. It is a very telling statement. They can’t control this little monster they nourished. It looked so cute when it was a puppy, but now that thing weighs 800 pounds. They’re just praying that if they keep feeding it, somehow it will stay focused on Israel, not them–oh, and on Syria, by the way. Lately the IHH has been staging protests in Istanbul against the Syrian regime. That’s awkward, too.