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Turks see US, Israel as top threats

Polls reveals 63.6 percent of Turks say relations with Israel should be frozen, 42.6 percent see US as ‘greatest external threat’.

The United States and Israel top the list of countries that Turks see as a threat, according to an opinion poll Wednesday.

The survey, conducted by the Ankara-based Metropoll research company last month, found that 42.6 percent saw the United States as “the greatest external threat,” with another 23.7 percent singling out Israel.

Turkey’s eastern neighbour Iran ranked third, listed by three percent of the respondents, while another neighbour and traditional rival Greece come fourth with 2.3 percent.

In response to another question, 63.6 percent said relations with Israel should be frozen, as opposed to 27.9 percent who said ties should be improved.

The figures mirrored a deep crisis between one-time allies Turkey and Israeli since May 31 when Israeli forces killed nine Turks as they raided an activist ship carrying aid to the Gaza Strip.

Concern over the United States, a NATO ally, appeared to reflect enduring misgivings about Washington’s policies in the region, notably since the 2003 invasion of Iraq, which had sparked fears over the possible emergence of an independent Kurdistan that would claim Turkish territory in the southeast.

An earlier poll had found that 86 percent of Turks believe on different degrees of certainty that the United States aim to divide their country.

Turkey’s deteriorating ties with Israel and warm relations with Iran have sparked concern that the Islamist-rooted government in Ankara, in power since 2002, is taking NATO’s sole Muslim-majority member away from the West. The government rejects the charges.

The Metropoll survey also found that 68.6 percent were concerned about the possibility of Iran developing nuclear weapons, while 22.7 percent said they would be pleased.

The figure was in contrast to solid public support for Iran becoming a nuclear power in Arab countries, the researchers noted.

The poll covered some 1,500 people across Turkey.


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