Hamas, PA hail ‘victory for democracy’ in Turkey

Hamas mobilizes in the streets and even bakes a cake to show Erdogan love; Ramallah congratulates Ankara in phone call

Dov Lieber is The Times of Israel's Arab affairs correspondent.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh during a January 2012 meeting in Istanbul. (Mohammed al-Ostaz/Flash90)
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh during a January 2012 meeting in Istanbul. (Mohammed al-Ostaz/Flash90)

The Palestinian Hamas terror group took to social media, Gaza’s streets and even the kitchen to express joy over Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s success in quashing an attempted coup. The Palestinian Authority, meanwhile, limited its reaction to a congratulatory phone call.

On Friday night, while the outcome of the attempt to overthrow Erdogan was still unclear, senior Hamas leader Musa Abu Marzook tweeted, “The great Turkish people will settle the battle with the putschists.”

By Saturday morning, when it emerged that the anti-Erdogan faction within the Turkish armed forces had failed, Hamas — which hasn’t held elections in Gaza since taking control of the enclave in a violent coup in 2007 (it had won Palestinian parliamentary elections a year earlier) — said in a statement that it condemned “the sinful attempt to overthrow the democratic choice of the brotherly Turkish people.”

The statement continued, “We extend our congratulations to President Erdogan and the honorable Turkish parties and security forces for guarding democracy and freedom.”

Hamas also held pro-Erdogan rallies Saturday in the central and northern Gaza Strip, attended by senior leaders of the movement as well as by youth in the Hamas-run “Jerusalem Intifada” summer camps.

Hamas’s top official in the Gaza Strip, former prime minister Ismail Haniyeh, participated and was photographed holding a cake on which he and the Turkish president appeared together.

The Hamas movement has for many years counted the Islamist government in Aknara among its closest political as well as financial backers.

In July, a reconciliation deal between Israel and Turkey saw Ankara break its promise to Hamas that it would not normalize relations with Israel until the Jewish state lifted its blockade of Gaza. Turkey, where several senior Hamas officials operate, also agreed to prevent Hamas military activity in its territory. Nevertheless, Hamas praised the deal as an effort “to ease the Gaza blockade.”

Meanwhile Saturday, Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki spoke with his Turkish counterpart, Mevlut Cavusoglu, over the phone, also hailing the failure of the putsch as a victory for democracy, according to the Palestinian news agency Ma’an.

He reportedly congratulated Cavusoglu on the “triumph of democracy and the defeat of the coup plotters and their failure to convulse the stability of the Turkish republic.”

Maliki added that his government and people “stand by our friends: the Turkish republic, president, people, and their democratically elected government.”

The Palestinian Authority has not held elections since 2006.

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