Since October 7, when Hamas carried out the murderous strike on Israeli territory that triggered the general conflict in Gaza between the two sides, Turkey has constantly expressed its support for Palestine, while condemning Israel’s fierce attack on the enclave. Nevertheless, Ankara is reluctant to take the next step predicted by its aggressive rhetoric, which would be to sever all ties with Tel Aviv.
Economic relations not only remain stable between Turkey and Israel, but are observed to increase even after each period of crisis. Israel is Turkey’s 10th largest trading partner and Turkey is Israel’s fourth largest importer.
The main export items to Israel are cement and steel. 65% of the steel that Israel uses comes from Turkey. According to some sources, the specific products that Turkey exports are used for the walls and dams that Israel built to isolate the occupied territories and Gaza. The fact that there has been no move to stop their export is a sign that Ankara wants to tread carefully in the field, according to former Turkish ambassador Selim Kuneralp, and prefers to “export” its anger to American products at low political cost. , as in Pepsi and Coca Cola.
Turkish Airlines has announced that it will no longer sell Pepsi and Coca Cola in its lounges and instead only soft drinks of Turkish origin will be offered. The Turkish National Assembly announced the same for its canteens, as well as the country’s schools.
Also, 40% of Israel’s oil is routed from Azerbaijan through Turkey, a transfer that leaves millions of dollars in Turkey’s state coffers, according to the Nation.
Messages for internal political consumption
The messages sent by Ankara against Israel are more for domestic political consumption, even regarding partnerships that do not even exist, such as in energy. See the statements of the Turkish Minister of Energy, Alparslan Bayraktar, who announced a “break” in energy talks, which have not even started.
American Bloomberg claimed that planned drilling and gas pipeline work with Israel was suspended after Erdogan’s statements in which he embraced Hamas. This claim was widely reported in the Turkish press as “Turkey shelving the pipeline project”, for which there has been no development or signature.
On the other hand, 2.5 billion cubic meters of Egyptian gas came to Turkey in 2022, part of which was Israeli gas. It is very difficult to tell how much of this is Israeli gas and how much is Egyptian gas.
“Whoever is serious declares a boycott”
“Everyone knows that these are statements aimed at domestic politics. He makes tough statements on the issue of Israel or Hamas, and then Sweden’s NATO membership is approved. Just two or three weeks ago Korans were being burned there and it was said that “the PKK-YPG is receiving support”. What changed in two to three weeks? The West is very familiar with statements about domestic politics and realpolitik. The rally that took place in Istanbul on October 28 was a rally that referred exclusively to domestic politics. Every day, many ships depart from the ports of Mersina, Antalya, Izmir and even Nicomedia and go to Israeli ports. They carry goods, oil and products. Someone serious would impose sanctions at this point and block trade,” Turkish energy expert Ali Akturk reckons.
Why won’t the war spread?
Ankara’s leadership is constantly sounding the bell of expanding the war not only in the region, but also in the whole world. Ankara, according to political analyst Mehmet Yilmaz in the opposition T24, is trying to create a terror scenario to stop the massacres in Gaza as soon as possible.
“However, Fidan is not convincing anyone. First, because there is no military power in the region that would want to engage in such a war and cause it to spread to the region. Second, the geographical distance requires a different kind of military force and the conduct of a transcontinental military operation in this region, which is far beyond the capability of the peripheral countries.
Therefore, the only way to convince the West to oppose Israel’s policies is for Erdogan to mobilize human rights defenders in their countries.
“For this to happen, however, Turkey’s human rights record would have to be clean, which unfortunately it is not,” notes Yilmaz.