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Turkey's Support for Hamas


October 7th





In a Nutshell

Turkey's support for Hamas, under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the Justice and Development Party, is shaped by a blend of Islamic solidarity, regional influence, opposition to Israeli policies, domestic political considerations, and a desire to counterbalance Western influence.

Erdogan's administration views Hamas as a political party rather than a terrorist organization, reflecting this stance in various actions, including condemning Israel's actions against Hamas leaders, hosting Hamas delegations, and providing financial and political support. Allegations of Turkey training Hamas members and reports of Hamas establishing a cyber warfare and intelligence headquarters in Turkey further signify the depth of this relationship. Despite international scrutiny, Erdogan maintains close ties with Hamas, underscoring Turkey's strategic balancing and independent foreign policy in the Middle Eastern geopolitical landscape.

Full Story

The Full Story

Turkey's support for Hamas can be understood through several key aspects of its foreign policy and strategic interests:

  1. Islamic Solidarity: Turkey, under the leadership of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has often emphasized Islamic solidarity in its foreign policy. Supporting Hamas, an Islamic political movement, aligns with this broader agenda of promoting and aligning with Islamic groups and causes.

  2. Regional Influence: By supporting Hamas, Turkey positions itself as a key player in Middle Eastern politics, particularly in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This support allows Turkey to exert influence in Palestinian affairs and broader regional dynamics.

  3. Opposition to Israeli Policies: Turkey's support for Hamas is also seen as part of its opposition to certain Israeli policies, especially regarding the Palestinian territories. By supporting Hamas, Turkey is able to express its disapproval of Israeli actions in the region.

  4. Domestic Politics: The support for Hamas resonates with a significant portion of the Turkish population, especially those who are sympathetic to the Palestinian cause. This support helps the ruling party maintain its popularity and legitimacy among its domestic base.

  5. Strategic Balancing: Turkey's relationship with Hamas can be seen as part of its broader strategy to balance its relations with various regional powers. By engaging with different groups, including those considered controversial or adversarial by some, Turkey seeks to maintain a degree of independence and leverage in regional affairs.

  6. Counterbalance to Western Influence: Supporting Hamas, which is viewed unfavorably by many Western countries, can be seen as a way for Turkey to assert its independent foreign policy stance and counterbalance Western influence in the region.

The relationship between Turkey and Hamas  is characterized by significant support and close ties.  key points:

  1. Reaction to Ahmed Yassin's Death (2004): After the killing of Hamas founder Ahmed Yassin by the Israel Defense Forces, then Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan condemned the attack, labeled Israel a "state of terror," and stated that "a shadow has been cast over peace."

  2. Hamas Visits to Turkey (2006 onwards): The first documented visit of a Hamas delegation to Turkey occurred in February 2006, led by Khaled Mashal. This visit included meetings with Turkish diplomats. Subsequently, conferences promoting Hamas' ideology were held in Turkey, including a November 2007 conference calling for "liberating Jerusalem from the Zionists through Jihad."

  3. Support and Recognition: Erdogan, like Putin, has expressed views that Hamas is a political party, not a terrorist organization. In 2011, Erdogan stated in an interview that Hamas is a political party.

  4. Financial and Political Support: Reports suggest that Erdogan sent a secret letter to Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, inviting him to Turkey and informing him of a decision to grant his government $300 million. Haniyeh's visit to Turkey received warm reception, and he met with Erdogan and other party leaders.

  5. Training Allegations: Israeli media reported that Hamas members were undergoing training in Turkey. This was based on the arrest and interrogation of an Israeli Arab who was allegedly recruiting for Hamas and sending recruits to Turkey for training.

  6. Public Acknowledgment and Praise: Erdogan has publicly praised Hamas, denying its designation as a terrorist organization and referring to it as a liberation and Mujahedeen organization. He has accused Israel of war crimes and threatened military action against it.

  7. Cyber Warfare and Intelligence Operations: Western intelligence services reportedly uncovered that Hamas established a secret headquarters in Turkey for cyber warfare and various intelligence operations, separate from its official offices in Istanbul.

  8. Continued Close Relations: Despite various international incidents and pressures, Erdogan's close relationship with Hamas appears to have remained unaffected. Erdogan has continued to meet with Hamas leaders and express support for their cause.



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