October 10, 2023 | Policy Brief

Turkey Actively Supports Hamas, Refuses to Condemn Massacre 

October 10, 2023 | Policy Brief

Turkey Actively Supports Hamas, Refuses to Condemn Massacre 

Following the deadly terrorist attacks in Israel by Hamas, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan refused to condemn the perpetrators, instead commenting on Sunday, “it’s our responsibility to stand with the oppressed.” This indifference to terrorism draws on Erdogan’s long history of active support for Hamas, which includes harboring its top leaders inside Turkey. 

While the vast majority of Turkey’s Western allies were quick to condemn the deadliest terrorist attack in Israeli history, Erdogan would not do so. Also on Sunday, Huda-Par— a radical Islamist party and a partner in Erdogan’s coalition — held a celebratory rally outside the Israeli Consulate in Istanbul, chanting “Israel be damned!” 

In 2018, Erdogan told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that “Hamas is not a terrorist organization and Palestinians are not terrorists. It is a resistance movement that defends the Palestinian homeland against an occupying power.” There is little evidence to suggest that Erdogan’s views have changed. 

With Erdogan’s full awareness, Hamas continues to maintain political offices in Turkey. Hamas leaders, including Khaled Mashal, Ismail Haniyeh, and Saleh al-Arouri, have openly met with Erdogan many times. In the cases of Arouri and Haniyeh, Ankara has provided them with Turkish passports and residency, which has allowed them to travel internationally unhindered. Arouri, Hamas’ West Bank chief, is a U.S.-designated terrorist with a $5 million bounty on his head. He celebrated this weekend’s massacre on social media and is likely one of the masterminds of the attacks.  

Turkey may also be providing military support to Hamas. In July, Israeli authorities seized 16 tons of explosive material that originated in Turkey and were bound for Gaza, apparently intended for Hamas rockets. While Ankara often declares its desire to “normalize” ties with Israel, Erdogan’s government remains a primary source of support for Hamas and other jihadist entities throughout the region. 

A day after the Hamas attacks, Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan spoke by telephone with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who requested “Turkey’s advocacy for a cease-fire” between Israel and the Palestinians. Blinken should know better. Fidan played a key role in facilitating the establishment of Hamas’ headquarters in Turkey and cannot be trusted. After mounting pressure, Blinken deleted the request from his social media channel.  

In its relations with Turkey, the Biden administration should exert relentless pressure on Erdogan’s government to sever all ties with Hamas, end all forms of support, and condemn terrorism unequivocally — as any member of NATO should. Washington’s specific requests should include that Ankara designate Hamas as a terrorist organization, quickly expel all of its members from Turkish territory, and extradite key Hamas leaders to Israel.  

Sinan Ciddi is a non-resident senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), where he contributes to FDD’s Turkey Program and Center on Military and Political Power (CMPP). For more analysis from Sinan, the Turkey Program, and CMPP, please subscribe HERE. Follow Sinan on X @SinanCiddi. Follow FDD on X @FDD and @FDD_CMPP. FDD is a Washington, DC-based, nonpartisan research institute focused on national security and foreign policy. 


Israel Israel at War Jihadism Turkey