Hamas Leader to Meet With Erdogan in Turkey

Latest Developments

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced on April 17 that he plans to meet Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh in Turkey over the coming weekend, calling Haniyeh the “leader of the Palestinian cause.” In a speech to lawmakers, Erdogan said, “Even if only I, Tayyip Erdogan, remain, I will continue as long as God gives me my life, to defend the Palestinian struggle and to be the voice of the oppressed Palestinian people.” Erdogan last hosted Haniyeh in July, when he convened a joint meeting between Hamas leaders and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Hamas leaders also met secretly in Turkey in December.

Expert Analysis

“Once again, the strongman of Turkey is unabashedly demonstrating his admiration for the Hamas terrorist organization, even after its massacre of 1,200 Israelis in one day. Erdogan’s soft spot for Hamas continues to undermine his legitimacy abroad. It’s not even clear that this bolsters his support at home anymore after the municipal elections that revealed a significant drop in support for his AK Party.” — Jonathan Schanzer, FDD Senior Vice President for Research

“Erdogan’s comparison of Hamas being the Turkish equivalent of Kemal Ataturk’s revolutionary forces that founded modern Turkey is vile. It also sheds light on Erdogan’s core belief that Hamas is a ‘resistance movement,’ implying that his support of the terror group is not transitory but sincere. Washington — which expects to welcome Erdogan to the White House on May 9 — should reconsider, as hosting a leader who embraces a U.S.-designated terrorist entity is simply unacceptable.” — Sinan Ciddi, FDD Non-Resident Senior Fellow

Erdogan Cheerleads for Hamas

Erdogan’s longstanding support for Islamic Brotherhood-affiliated terrorist organizations like Hamas did not diminish after Hamas’s October 7 massacre in southern Israel. Since the attack, Erdogan consistently placed the blame entirely on Israel and continues to serve as Hamas’s primary apologist. On April 17, Erdogan compared Hamas to Mustafa Kemal Ataturk’s Turkish revolutionary forces. He has falsely claimed that Israel is committing “genocide” in Gaza and that Hamas members are freedom fighters. Last year, he said that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is worse than Adolf Hitler.

Stoking Antisemitism to Secure His Base

Erdogan has been attempting to shore up the Islamist vote for his Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated Justice and Development Party (AKP) after a devastating defeat in March’s local elections. In the run-up to the election, the right-wing Islamist New Welfare Party (YRP) broke its alliance with the AKP to field its own candidates, attacking the AKP primarily for continuing trade with Israel. Besides allowing Hamas members citizenship and a safe haven for years, AKP members close to Erdogan have actively worked to support Hamas’s operations.

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