ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan decried Israeli’s air strikes on Gaza on Friday as a pre-election stunt and said he would discuss the crisis with Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi in Cairo this weekend.
Under Erdogan’s Islamist-rooted AK Party, Turkey has sought to use its clout as a rising democratic power in the Muslim world to increase its influence in the Middle East, distancing itself from former ally Israel.
Erdogan said he would speak by phone with U.S. President Barack Obama later on Friday and that Ankara was also seeking talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin amid the prospect of a full Israeli ground invasion.
The United States says it has asked Turkey and Egypt to encourage the Islamist Hamas movement that rules Gaza to cease rocket fire into Israel, but Erdogan laid the blame for the deepening crisis firmly on the Jewish state.
“Before this election they (Israel) shot these innocent people in Gaza for reasons they fabricated,” he told reporters in Istanbul. “The dominant world powers are now making the Gaza people and fighters pay, and as the Republic of Turkey we are with our brothers in Gaza and their just cause.” Read more.