Turks Demonstrate at Incirlik Air Base Against US Support for Israel

Turkyie’s President Erdogan has issued statement’s condemning Israel’s bombing campaign on Gaza but has not taken any concrete steps to support the Palestinian resistance.

Pro-Palestinian protesters gathered on 5 November outside the Incirlik Air Base in southeastern Turkiye to protest US support for Israel’s bombing campaign in Gaza that has now killed almost 10,000 Palestinians, the majority women and children.

The Incirlik base is owned by Turkiye but hosts US warplanes and nuclear weapons, enabling the US to project power through out West Asia and to threaten Russia.

In 2012, Turkiye set up a “nerve center” either in or near Incirlik to provide weapons in coordination with the US to Jihadist groups seeking to topple the Syrian government starting in 2011.

Sunday’s protest was organised by the IHH humanitarian relief fund, which in 2010 led a flotilla of ships full of peace activists to Gaza to break the Israeli blockade on the enclave. Israeli forces attacked the flotilla, raiding its ships from helicopters and killing ten Turkish activists.

During today’s demonstration, police stepped in when some protesters broke the barricades, trying to enter the airbase.

Video on social media showed hundreds of people waving Palestinian flags running across a field chased by the police, who used water cannons to disperse the crowds.

There were no reports of injuries or arrests.

Bulent Yildirim, the IHH head, said in a speech that there were protests against the attacks on Gaza all over Europe and the US, adding that he hopes to see more demonstrations like this.

In his speech, Yildirim warned protesters to refrain from trying to enter the base.

“Do not clash with the police. The police are as concerned about Gaza as you are,” he said.

The IHH protest was timed to coincide with a visit to Ankara by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who was to arrive late Sunday and meet Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan on Monday.

Fidan cooperated closely with US officials in supporting Jihadist groups in Syria, including the Nusra Front and ISIS, which are both Al-Qaeda offshoots.

Blinken traveled to Israel on Friday to press for a humanitarian pause to the fighting to allow aid to reach Gaza, but his requests were rejected by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Blinken then traveled on Saturday to Jordan to meet with Arab leaders, who demanded the US support efforts for a ceasefire. Blinken rejected the idea of a ceasefire, claiming Israel was free to continue bombing Gaza in “self-defense.”

Nearly 1,000 people also rallied Sunday outside the US embassy in Ankara, according to an AFP photographer at the scene.

Last month, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan led a massive rally in Istanbul last month that he said was attended by 1.5 million people. At the rally, Erdogan called Israel an “occupier” that was acting like a “war criminal.”

Despite strong rhetoric condemning Israel, Erdogan continues to allow oil from Azerbaijan destined for Israel to pass through Turkish pipelines and be loaded at the port of Ceyhan to tankers for delivery to Haifa.

Erdogan cooperated closely with Netanyahu to facilitate the flow of Kurdish oil from northern Iraq via Turkiye to Israel starting in 2014, against the wishes of Iraq’s central government in Baghdad.

Before war erupted between the Hamas-led Palestinian resistance and Israel on 7 October, Erdogan and Netanyahu were in talks to build a natural gas pipeline from Israel to Turkiye, which would allow Tel Aviv to export its gas to Europe.

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