The Turkish government suggested to military officials, hours before Israeli troops raided the Mavi Marmara ship which was carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza, that the Turkish public be misinformed that the ship was accompanied by Turkish warships, the Habertürk daily said on Wednesday, based on information from a book on the years of military service of retired Adm. Nusret Güner.
According to the story in the daily, government officials proposed informing the press that warships were sent to accompany Mavi Marmara against a possible Israeli attack, but that no ships were actually sent.
In the Mavi Marmara attack that took place on May 30, 2010, some hours after the meeting in Turkey, nine Turks were killed by Israeli troops.
In a book titled “Sakıncalı Amiral” (Unfavored Admiral), by Toygun Atilla based on Güner's years of service in the navy, Güner reportedly said the government had asked the military whether the Turkish Navy was ready to offer protection.
Güner's account demonstrates that Turkey might have come to the brink of war with Israel at the time. Based on the information in the book, Güner, who was at the time chief aid to the commander of the Naval Forces, informed government members that the navy was ready for the task, but he protested vehemently against the government's proposal, saying that it would too risky to adopt such a course of action.
Here is what Güner reportedly said at the meeting: “When I heard the [government's] proposal, I protested vehemently. What they proposed was too risky. We would take fewer risks if we were to send our ships [for protection] without so informing the press. […] Within six to eight hours, 90 percent of the naval forces can be ready for an operation. But as I was aware that. in such a situation, the two countries might go to war against each other, I thought the decision-makers should be aware of what they were deciding about.”
As a clash with Israel was possible should the navy had offered protection to the Mavi Marmara, Güner also proposed that the navy be given the authority to decide about rules of engagement in a possible clash.
At the time, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, then-Chief of General Staff Gen. İlker Başbuğ and then-commander of the Turkish Naval Forces Adm. Uğur Yiğit were on visits abroad, and Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç as acting prime minister headed the meeting in which some other ministers also attended.
In Mavi Marmara incident, gov't proposed misinforming press
May 07, 2014, Wednesday/ 18:56:46/ TODAY'S ZAMAN / ANKARA