Izvestia: Turkey walks diplomatic tightrope in Middle East crisis

Izvestia: Turkey walks diplomatic tightrope in Middle East crisis
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Striving to mediate the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Ankara prioritizes its fragile ties with Israel.

As the Israeli-Palestinian conflict intensifies, Turkey emerges as a potential mediator, keenly aware of the delicate balance it needs to maintain. While its traditional stance to support Palestine is clear, Ankara is threading cautiously, showcasing its intent to uphold and strengthen its recently rekindled economic relationship with Israel, writes in a thorough analysis of the Izvestia.

Hakan Fidan, the Turkish Foreign Minister, expressed concerns during a TRT television interview, emphasizing the critical need for peace in the region. Reflecting on the blockades of the Gaza Strip in 2009 and 2014, Fidan underscored the recent crisis’s alarming nature. He criticized Israel’s decade-long policy, asserting the imperative of a two-state solution. Fidan commented on Israel’s retaliatory approach, lamenting that Israel’s quest for revenge is hampering peace efforts.

The minister further pointed out the U.S.’s unwavering support for Israel, particularly following the Gaza hospital attack, showing that such backing implicates the U.S. in Israel’s military pursuits. Despite these concerns, Turkey has dispatched over 80 tons of humanitarian aid to Gaza.

Fidan also addressed the disparity in the West’s reaction to the Israeli-Palestinian and Ukrainian conflicts. He appealed for a uniform stance in both scenarios.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, advocating peace, has engaged in dialogue with both Israeli and Palestinian leaders. Erdogan underlined the significance of recognizing a unified Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital. He believes failing to address this would intensify regional unrest.

Historically, Erdogan has been an ardent supporter of Palestine, even dubbing Israel a “terrorist country.” Relations between the two countries suffered after the 2010 Mavi Marmara incident, where nine Turkish nationals lost their lives because of Israeli intervention. However, the ties were mended in 2022.

Andrei Ontikov, a Middle East affairs expert, expressed to Izvestia that Turkey’s primary aim is conflict de-escalation while preserving its economic relationship with Israel. Any amplification of the ongoing strife could push Turkey to prioritize its Islamic connections over Israeli trade.

Dr. Vladimir Avatkov highlighted Turkey’s developing stance in the conflict. He proposed a system wherein multiple countries, including Turkey, would ensure the execution of any peace accords. This strategy could furnish Turkey with political and economic advantages.

Avatkov also drew attention to the distinction between Turkey’s involvement in the Ukrainian and Israeli-Palestinian disputes. He emphasized that Turkey, though still advocating for Palestine, is adopting non-confrontational strategies, considering the upcoming local elections in 2024.