After a stance closer to neutrality at the beginning of the “Al-Aqsa Flood” battle that exposed it to some criticism, Turkey – in the past few days – issued various and high-profile statements, especially by President Erdogan, which suggests a change in Ankara’s position on the battle, and in particular From the occupying state.
In the first hours and days of the “Al-Aqsa Flood” battle – which was initiated by the Al-Qassam Brigades, the military arm of the Hamas movement – Turkish officials issued surprising positions, as they were different from their positions in previous confrontations between the occupation and the Palestinian resistance.
Statements issued by President Erdogan, Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan, ruling party spokesman Omer Celik and other officials focused on denouncing the “targeting of civilians” and demanding the “immediate and unconditional release of the hostages,” with the term “hostages” having different connotations. About “prisoners”. In these statements, Turkish officials called on “all parties” for calm and wisdom and to return to dialogue and the political path, focusing on the necessity of achieving the idea of a two-state solution as the only way out of the current confrontation, which some considered implicit equality between the two sides.
This coincided with the absence of any news about meetings that took place between the Turkish leadership and leaders of the Hamas movement during the first days. Although both parties denied the validity of Israeli reports, which claimed that Ankara had asked the leaders of the Palestinian movement to leave its territory, the latter appeared in media interviews from the Qatari capital, not Istanbul.
For many days, praise has been repeated on the lips of politicians and in the Turkish media for “Turkey remaining neutral,” not supporting either party, and its willingness to play the role of mediator to reach a peace agreement. Also, Turkey, like the Arab and Muslim countries that have diplomatic relations with “Israel”, did not withdraw its ambassador there for consultations, nor did it summon the occupation’s ambassador to protest. This was preceded by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ decision to withdraw its ambassadors in these countries in anticipation of popular reactions after the bombing of Al-Ahli Hospital. in Gaza.
This major difference in Turkey’s position from previous confrontations and aggressions against Gaza can be attributed to three main reasons: Ankara’s continuation of the path of rapprochement with the countries of the region, and its unwillingness to export a position that is ahead of it in a way that would negatively affect it – as happened previously – and thus its consideration that its position In harmony with the influential Arab countries, and their keenness to continue relations with “Israel”; Out of a desire to cooperate in the natural gas file in the Eastern Mediterranean, and to avoid any major tensions with the United States of America at this stage, which could end the F-16 fighter deal and be reflected in other files.
There is a noticeable development in Ankara’s official speech regarding the aggression against the Gaza Strip, specifically emphasizing the idea that “Hamas” is not a terrorist organization, in conflict with the unified position of the occupying state and its Western supporters.
Change of discourse:
This Turkish position has been subjected to some criticism, on the grounds that it is a retreat from the positions of Turkey itself in less severe and bloody situations by the occupation, as well as its lack of proportionality with the scale of the tragedy in the Gaza Strip and the war crimes committed by the occupation, as well as its lack of harmony with the pulse of the Turkish street that rose up. In support of Gaza and Palestine, especially after the Al-Ahly Hospital massacre.
Over time, important changes occurred that increased the embarrassment of the official Turkish position, such as the exposure of the level of lying and forgery in the events of October 7 and its outcome, and the “Israeli” war government’s shedding of the blood of the people of Gaza, and all the necessities of life there, and its indifference to any regional and international criticism or appeals. Related to targeting civilians and infrastructure, and open American support, including sending aircraft carriers to the Mediterranean, which worried and disturbed Ankara, and the level of popular rejection, in Turkey, of “Israeli” practices, and the organization of several opposition political parties, massive public festivals in support of the Palestinian people and their resistance with a higher level of discourse. Much more than the government ceiling.
In conjunction with these changes, and apparently influenced by them, the tone of Turkish official statements has risen in the last few days. In a speech before his party’s parliamentary bloc on the 24th of this month, Erdogan said: His country does not consider “Hamas” a terrorist organization, but rather “a national liberation movement struggling to protect its citizens and its land,” stressing that Turkey cannot remain silent about what is happening, and that it will do so. Everything it can, politically, humanitarianly and militarily, if necessary, in what appears to be a reference to the idea of guarantor states that Ankara has recently been proposing.
Last Saturday, the ruling Justice and Development Party organized a mass demonstration in Istanbul. In support of the Palestinians and rejection of the crimes of the occupation, Erdogan’s speech was filled with sharp criticism of “Israel,” such as describing it as a “terrorist state” and threatening to declare it a “war criminal before the world.” The reaction to Erdogan’s speech came from the Israeli Foreign Minister, who announced the withdrawal of the diplomatic staff from Turkey to reconsider relations between the two sides, as he put it.
In addition to the above-mentioned items in the speech, the Turkish President announced that he had canceled his supposed visit to “Israel,” and Turkish media had previously said that Ankara had stopped cooperation talks on the gas file. Therefore, it can be said: The variables in Turkey’s position up to this moment are largely limited to the discourse, its vocabulary, and its tone, and it has not gone beyond the practical realms. Erdogan’s visit was supposed to take place after Netanyahu’s visit to Ankara, and they were not expected in light of the current war, and canceling or freezing the talks on gas in the interim is something that has happened, which greatly reduces its effect as a means of pressure or even a signal of protest.
Therefore, it can be said that the massive popular festival called for by the Justice and Development Party and in which Erdogan spoke, despite its symbolic importance and supportive language, was directed more internally than externally, and it can be assumed that it was mainly motivated by embarrassment over the position of the people and segments of the elites, as well as some The opposition parties, as they all seemed to be ahead of the official position of the state, the government, and the ruling party, which is a sensitive matter as the date of the local elections in the country approaches. Originally, the invitation of a head of state or ruling party to a speech festival seemed somewhat reprehensible and an implicit indication that no major practical steps were expected, in addition to the fact that it came very late, specifically three full weeks after the start of the aggression on the Gaza Strip.
These developments related to the speech were accompanied by a meeting of the Foreign Minister with the leaders of the Hamas movement in Doha and a phone call between Erdogan and the latter’s president, Ismail Haniyeh. The Turkish statement about them included an emphasis on the necessity of a ceasefire, launching a political path, as well as “releasing the hostages.”
While – given the capabilities and tools that Turkey possesses and in return to its previous positions – there is an ambition to have clearer practical positions and the ability to influence, such as steps related to bilateral relations such as withdrawing the ambassador from Tel Aviv for consultations or for a longer period, and some of them that could constitute pressure such as economic cooperation. , especially the energy file, including the following: Turkey’s role with third parties such as the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and a number of other countries: In pursuit of practical decisions and real positions that can contribute to deterring the occupation from its crimes, as well as pressure to secure the entry of aid into the Gaza Strip at the required pace and quantities, and possible positive signals at the level of relations with the Palestinian resistance factions, most notably the Hamas movement.
In conclusion, there is a noticeable development in Ankara’s official discourse regarding the aggression on the Gaza Strip, specifically the emphasis on the idea that “Hamas” is not a terrorist organization in conflict with the unified position of the occupying state and its Western supporters, as well as the intensity of the criticism directed at “Israel” in terms reminiscent of Turkey’s positions and Erdogan’s speeches. Years ago. Meanwhile, on the practical level, the Turkish position is still very far from expectations and ambitions, even from the perspective of realistic politics and possible steps diplomatically and politically, which is what Ankara can do, and it is best to pursue it without delay before it is attacked by field developments in Gaza and the region, and political developments in the region and the world. .