Since the Islamic party won the 2008 elections in Turkey and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan became prime minister, Turkey's regional foreign policy has become assertive and reflects a sense of self confidence and self-importance. Turkey seeks to strengthen its relations with its neighbors, especially Iran, Iraq and Syria to provide itself with strategic depth and to gain regional influence. Turkey exploits regional instability, which it perceives as an opportunity to advance its interests and increase its influence.
Turkey uses of NGOs to promote its interests. One of those is IHH, a radical Islamist organization which regards the support of Turkish policy as one of its functions. IHH is an active participant in the convoys and flotillas to the Gaza Strip and provides support for Hamas. The organization receives logistic support from the government of Turkey as well as political protection.
Under Erdogan, Turkey gradually changed its relations with Israel, siding more and more with the Palestinians in their anti-Israeli campaign. The government of Turkey gives Hamas financial and other support and on several occasions Erdogan has denounced Israeli policy.
The worst crisis in relations between Israel and Turkey resulted from the events of the Mavi Marmara flotilla, during which nine Turkish nationals, IHH operatives, were killed. The IHH operatives aboard the Mavi Marmara employed extreme violence to counter the attempts of the Israeli Navy to prevent the flotilla from entering the Gaza port. Following the incident Turkey downgraded its diplomatic and military relations with Israel, while economic relations remained virtually intact.