Saturday, February 24

Turkey: Police Tear Gas Pro-Hamas Mob Trying to Storm U.S. Airbase

The protest against America and Israel, in support of Hamas, was organized by the Turkish Islamist Group, the “IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation.” The group called it a “Freedom Convoy for Palestine,” which coincided with and protested against the visit of American Secretary of State Antony Blinken to Turkey.

During the event, Bulent Yildirim, the head of IHH, urged attendees not to attack the police. He claimed that the police agreed with their pro-Hamas stance and were limited in their ability to attack Israel. Yildirim himself was tear-gassed when the mob tried to attack the base.

Turkey, as a formal ally of the United States through NATO, houses American troops belonging to the US Air Force 39th Air Wing Command at Incirlik. However, despite this alliance, the government of Turkish strongman Recep Tayyip Erdogan openly supports terrorist organizations like Hamas and disregards NATO agreements with Russia. This has led to a rise in anti-American sentiment in Turkey, with both Islamist and secularist factions denouncing the presence of American troops at Incirlik and occasionally attempting to attack the base.

Anti-Americanism has increased in Turkey in response to the terrorist attack by Hamas in Israel on October 7, which resulted in the deaths of over 1,400 people. Hamas terrorists invaded Israel from Gaza and brutally killed civilians, including infants. Erdogan, at a meeting of his Islamist Justice and Development Party (AKP), declared that Hamas is not a terrorist organization but rather a group defending their lands.

During the “Freedom Convoy,” a group of men broke away from the main protest and attempted to enter the Incirlik base through the surrounding airfields. Turkish authorities responded with police on horseback, tear gas, and water cannons to control the mob. The group, numbering in the hundreds, tried to tear down barricades and throw objects at the police.


 

The Turkish government’s Anadolu Agency portrayed the event as a mostly peaceful protest against Israel’s actions towards Palestinians, downplaying the violence outside the airbase. However, the agency acknowledged that some protesters were engaging in violent behavior.

The Pentagon’s European Command, responsible for the troops at Incirlik, acknowledged the potential safety risks posed by the IHH’s encouragement of hundreds of thousands of people to attend the pro-Hamas rally. They stated that appropriate safety protocols were being developed and urged members to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activities.

Erdogan’s government has actively supported mass events in solidarity with Hamas, which has a presence in Turkey. Erdogan himself delivered a speech during a rally in Istanbul where he reiterated his belief that Hamas is not a terrorist organization. He also accused Western countries supporting Israel after the October 7 terrorist attack of creating a “Crusader War atmosphere.”

Erdogan described the mass killing of civilians by Hamas as regrettable but continued to defend the group as not being a terrorist organization. He also mocked Western leaders for being offended by his claim.