by Ioannis N. Grigoriadis*
Almost a month after the Hamas attack on Israel and the Israeli retaliation that followed, Turkish policy is still determined by short-term calculations and tactical maneuvers. The sharp attacks against the West are accompanied by the signing of the decree approving Sweden’s accession to NATO.
The unprecedentedly intense accusations against Israel are not accompanied by the interruption of diplomatic relations or even the recall of Turkish diplomats. The attempt to prevent the collapse of the very profitable bilateral trade between Israel and Turkey is obvious, although rather unrealistic given the circumstances.
It is worth pointing out the popularity of the Turkish government’s rhetoric within borders. The gradual departure from the equal distance policy of the first days and the identification with the Hamas side is consistent with the perceptions of Turkish public opinion.
The reaction to Israel’s counterattack is not limited to Turkish Islamists, but is particularly popular within the Turkish Left, which sees anti-colonial and anti-imperialist characteristics in Hamas despite its distinctly Islamist character.
Also of interest is the attempt to undertake diplomatic initiatives that would certify Turkey’s leading role in the Middle East. The proposal for the establishment of a regional security mechanism with the participation of states in the region is linked to the effort to strategically wean the Middle East from the influence of the West, to consolidate Israel’s isolation and to cancel the important steps taken with the “Abraham Accords”. ».
There had also been a proposal for the establishment of a guarantee regime for Israel and Palestine, with Turkey assuming the role of the guarantor power for the state of Palestine. Such an agreement would pave the way for Turkey’s military presence on Palestinian territory even in East Jerusalem, assuming the two-state solution for Palestine based on the internationally recognized borders before the 1967 war would be implemented.
Although the chances of the above proposals being implemented are minimal, both promote the projection of Turkey’s military capabilities in a region, however, where its public image remains problematic. It may be that Turkey’s rapprochement with the Islamic Brotherhood, the renewed interest in the Palestinian issue and the defense of Hamas contributed to the emergence of a strong pro-Turkish lobby within a number of Middle Eastern states.
However, Turkey’s identification with the Brotherhood has also led to opposition from the leading groups of states, which consider the Brotherhood a mortal danger to the stability of the Middle East and Turkey as one of its main sponsors.
The perception that the ascendancy of the Islamic Brotherhood is inevitable and that the new political map of the Middle East will offer Turkey the opportunity to strategically dominate the region has already cost Turkish foreign policy dearly. Alignment with Hamas may regularly bring short-term benefits, but it will hinder the success of Turkey’s strategic goals in the Middle East in the long run.
* Ioannis N. Grigoriadis is an associate professor of the Department of Political Science and Public Administration of Bilkent University and head of the Turkey Program at the Hellenic Institute for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP)