The military battle between the Palestinian Hamas and Israel remains a prominent matter of international concern. Despite the chaotic process of building conditional blocs of pro- and anti-Israeli forces, the armed conflict is yet to result in lengthy political discussions with an undetermined end.
The West, led by the United States, the United Kingdom, and leading EU countries (France, Germany, Italy, and others), has unambiguously sided with Israel in this conflict, accusing Hamas of terrorism. Joe Biden and Rishi Sunak visited Israel to pledge their political and military support for the Jewish state and to show their solidarity with it.
It should be noted that the statements made by the Anglo-Saxon leaders are consistent with their actions, since over 2,000 US soldiers, along with F-15, F-16, and F-35 jets, are being transferred, and two US aircraft carriers, Gerald Ford and Dwight Eisenhower, have been hurriedly dispatched to the Middle East. Washington is debating the possibility of giving Tel Aviv further financial support worth $10 billion in addition to the military and technological assistance already sent. The UK, which follows the same criteria and articles as the US, provides military, diplomatic, and material aid to Israel.
Joe Biden said that Israel has a right to self-defense these days. The US president went so far as to acknowledge that he is a Zionist. A UN Security Council meeting called by Russia and the UAE in response to the Israeli Air Force’s targeted attack on the Al-Akhneh Baptist Hospital in Gaza on the night of October 17–18, which resulted in hundreds of innocent civilian casualties, failed to pass a resolution condemning Israel. And this was made possible, first and foremost, by the attitude of the same USA, Great Britain, France, Germany, and other Western countries.
In truth, a vast majority of NATO members back the Israel Defense Forces’ unflinching campaign to eliminate Hamas, which has resulted in a significant loss of civilian life in the Gaza Strip. In this process, Turkey has fallen out of the North Atlantic Alliance because President Erdoğan correctly describes the Israeli authorities’ activities with their troops as a “massacre” and “barbarism” against the Palestinian population of the Gaza Strip.
So far, Turkey’s actions have been restricted to peaceful demands for a cease-fire, humanitarian aid for residents in the Gaza Strip, and a proposal to form a Palestinian state on the 1967 lines and centered in East Jerusalem, while Turkey is prepared to take up the role of Palestinian security guarantor. President Erdoğan and Foreign Minister Fidan are actively discussing Ankara’s latest diplomatic move with leaders and foreign ministers from a number of countries, including Russia, France, the UAE, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Iran.
However, the Turkish side’s good will has so far been limited to declarations because Israel is not going to stop hostilities, getting approval of its policy by the Western coalition, and does not want to accelerate the process of recognizing Palestine as an independent state, particularly within the 1967 borders and with the center in East Jerusalem. For the Jewish state, Jerusalem is one of a kind and must belong to Israel historically and politically.
What can Ankara provide in answer to Tel Aviv’s, Washington’s, and London’s positions in this regard? Turkey was, in fact, deeply offended by Israel’s horrific slaughter of hundreds of defenseless patients and staff at the previously mentioned Christian hospital in the Gaza Strip. Turkey, along with several other Arab and Islamic states such as Lebanon, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Iran, and others, observed three days of mourning in solidarity with the victims of the Israeli shelling in the Gaza Strip.
Large-scale protests against the policies of Israel and its US partner, as well as in support of the Palestinian people, were staged in Istanbul and other cities throughout the nation. Turkish and international media reported that protesters almost overran the Israeli Consulate General in Istanbul, setting fire to the Israeli flag and egging the building.
In addition, during these “hot” October days, there were comparable protests at the Israeli, American, and French embassies and consulates in a number of other nations, including Tunisia, Yemen, Lebanon, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, and Iran. Of course, these kinds of acts have been welcomed by mostly Arab and Islamic countries. People in some of them, including Lebanon and Iran, are calling for Israel to declare war and launch a new front.
However, the sentiments of people in the streets and squares are not a suitable basis for the actions of the Islamic world’s authorities. Officials from Turkey’s presidential administration have firmly dismissed claims that Ankara is planning a military operation in the Middle East. In particular, one such source, referring to this topic, informed RIA Novosti: “An absolute provocation calculated to cast a shadow on the mediation efforts Ankara has been showing since the beginning of the escalation.” Even if such arrangements were made, who would declare it in advance?
Furthermore, Turkey is making an effort to keep Lebanon out of the dispute and stop a firestorm from spreading onto Lebanese soil, as seen by the Turkish Foreign Minister’s October 17 visit to Beirut and discussions with peers in Lebanon. More specifically, Ankara sees no benefit whatsoever from the pro-Iranian Hezbollah’s cooperation in the fight with Israel, which serves the interests of both Washington and Tel Aviv.
At this point, Erdoğan and Fidan are inclined toward ongoing phone diplomacy in hopes of achieving a ceasefire. However, in the absence of military deployment Turkey or any other state is unlikely to be able, using “telephone diplomacy,” to persuade Israel to recognize Palestine or to ceasefire.
Basically, what are the enemies of Israel saying to the Jewish state? That it should turn a blind eye to the terrorist strike by Hamas and not annihilate them in the Gaza Strip? However, after a while, relapses with attacks will occur once more. If the Israel Defense Forces do not impose a strict blockade on the Gaza Strip and launch an intensive military operation that combines air and sea operations with a ground operation, how can they rid the region of Hamas terrorists and leaders? Put simply, the same Hamas terrorists will exit the region and end up in the same Arab East neighbors (e.g., Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, or Syria) if Israel opens a checkpoint for them to depart the Gaza Strip. The discussion of Israeli aerial bombardment or mechanized brigade offensives would likewise become meaningless at that point. Who will the Jews destroy if Hamas flees?
Meanwhile, for some reason, not a single Arab or Islamic state—not even Turkey—is racing to get those poor Palestinian refugees out of the Gaza Strip by sea. Jordan and Egypt are closing their borders to Palestinians.
Why is that happening? Does the Arab world not regard Palestinians as equals? But why are they so concerned about them, blaming Israel? Do Arabs, Turks and Persians fear the wrath of the US and UK? But, given their knowledge of Washington’s and Tel Aviv’s approach to the matter, what are they doing by backing Palestine against Israel? Or is that just one of the strategies underlying another Palestinian-Israeli war? After all, the rest of the Islamic world views Israel and its main ally, the United States, as symbols of evil that demand jihad if the Gaza Strip is completely cut off from the outside world and Israel is openly murdering the local populace for Hamas.
Major General Mohammad Hossein Bagheri, chief of staff of Iran’s Armed Forces, warned that foreign backing for Israel would bring fresh players into the conflict. Iranian officials, according to ShiaNews, have never feared anyone. Almost the whole world was at war with the Islamic Republic of Iran in the 1980s, when Iranian authorities fought a war against Saddam Hussein’s regime. Tehran perceives that the Zionist system in Israel survives primarily because of strong US and British military bases in the Middle East. It is implied that America will stand up for its Middle East initiative and won’t stand by and see Israel destroyed. Iran does not currently see the need to escalate a military confrontation with Israel because a large-scale conflict will erupt and more Muslims will perish in the ensuing bloodbath.
Iran maintains that it is critical to fortify the resistance against Israel, which it has done in Palestine, Yemen, Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq. Tehran hopes to expand the anti-Israeli movement by enlisting the support of other Islamic nations such as Jordan, Turkey, Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, and Libya. The ultimate goal is to see “traitorous governments” removed from office and American bases expelled from these countries. So far, we have observed that demonstrators have yelled anti-American phrases such as “Down with US bases” in a number of Islamic nations, like Jordan and Turkey. However, there are no explicit anti-government slogans in Turkey or any other countries.
Meanwhile, even Saudi Arabia had to end all negotiations with Israel aimed at repairing mutual relations. Here, the theme of a broad coalition in the Islamic world is Iranian-Saudi reconciliation and cooperation. This is a bet on the synchronization of anti-American and anti-Israeli resistance with the shift in their main external partner from the United States to China with its nearly 1.5 billion population and the richest market for oil and gas of the major Middle Eastern raw material countries, including Saudi Arabia, Iran, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, and Jordan.
This leads us to the conclusion that the architects of the Arab-Jewish conflict see Israel as nothing more than a tool to subdue Western imperialism’s ambitions in the Middle East. The issue is that, should there be an imbalance between the interests of the Middle Eastern countries themselves and the major global players interested in the resources of local countries and regional communications, another imperialism with more colorful indications may follow the first one in the region.
“Turkey’s telephone diplomacy,” which involves a two-state solution and two security guarantor blocs for Palestine and Israel, is more equitable in the interim. The primary question is: how can we accomplish this without maintaining a military power balance in the ongoing historical struggle between two countries and two worlds?…
The new multipolar world order involving a reform of the UN, which has turned into an obedient tool of the USA and its satellites in the last three decades since the fall of the USSR and the Warsaw Pact, against the interests of most nations, should, of course, provide the answer to this question. One player isn’t enough to play the Great Game on the Grand Chessboard. Every game requires at least two teams.
Aleksandr SVARANTS, Doctor in Political Science, professor, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.