No fewer than 42% of Turks believe that Israel is the biggest threat to their country, a new poll shows. The second greatest threat is the United States, and Syria – where ISIS terrorists have taken over a large part of the country, and Islamist rebels are fighting Bashar al-Assad's army for the rest – only comes in third place.
As a result of the civil war in Syria, Turkey has been inundated with refugees from that country, who many Turks say are straining their country's resources. According to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the country has taken in some 2 million Syrian refugees.
A total of 42.6% of Turks see Israel as a threat, while 35.3% believe the same about the United States. Only 22.1% see Syria as a threat. In fourth place is Armenia, a traditional rival, which 20.3% of Turks see as a threat.
In terms of organized threats, ISIS is the only one that is ahead of Israel on the list of groups that could constitute a “mortal threat” to Turkey, the poll said. Also on the list is the European Union – an organization that Turkey still, at least officially, is trying to join. Ten percent of Turks see the EU as a threat to their country's existence.
The poll shows that Turks' attitude towards Israel is much the same as it was in 2010, when a Turkish flotilla that attempted to reached Gaza was intercepted by Israel, with the resulting deaths of ten Turkish supporters of Hamas who were killed attacking Israel.
Over the past several years, attempts have been made by individuals in Israel and Turkey to restore a once-robust relationship, but those efforts have fallen short, at least politically.