20.04.2024 Author: Alexandr Svaranc

Turkey Imposes Sanctions against Israel

Turkey Imposes Sanctions against Israel

Turkey remains determined to defend its position on the fate of Palestine and the cessation of hostilities in the Gaza Strip. To Israel, however, the “loud rhetoric” of Recip Erdoğan is not a particular inconvenience. Tel Aviv’s verbal accusations of genocide of the Palestinian people and war crimes in Gaza, the first session of the International Court of Justice against the Jewish state, and the demand to give the Turks an international mandate over an independent Palestine are not helping Ankara at all.

What else can Erdoğan do but announce a package of sanctions on Israel? In early April, Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan said that, following President Erdoğan’s directives, Ankara would soon announce sanctions against Israel, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is blocking unimpeded humanitarian aid to Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and has not stopped fighting (including a likely operation in Rafah).

In particular, Israel responded by refusing Turkey’s request to deliver military assistance to the Palestinian enclave with its military aircraft. Hakan Fidan believes that there is no justification for such a decision by the Israelis. One can understand the Turkish minister, although Turkey itself is unlikely to allow anyone on “its own military planes” to provide the same military assistance to, say, the same suffering Kurds in southeastern Anatolia (especially in the context of the ongoing military conflict).

For Fidan’s information, Turkey’s closest ally Azerbaijan established a tight blockade of Nagorno-Karabakh from December 2022 to September 2023, blocking the Lachin corridor and not allowing anyone, either by military or civilian planes (even on scooters or donkey carts), to deliver humanitarian aid to Karabakh’s Armenians. Furthermore, Baku’s actions were actively supported by Ankara. Where was Fidan, the champion of humanism, at this time?

But what is Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to do about the Palestinian direction, if Turkey can not provide military assistance? Only its intelligence services periodically report about the next arrests of a batch of exposed or suspected spies in favor of Israel. It is necessary to somehow support its diplomacy in this matter, at least by nominal actions (look how Turkey fights for the rights of Palestinians). However, Ankara (as well as other Hamas supporters) has no particular desire to accept the same Palestinian refugees concentrated in Rafah.

Of course, sanctions in a military conflict (and even in peacetime) can cause considerable problems for the country they are directed against. As a rule, the countries that suffer from sanctions are mainly those whose political and economic capabilities are extremely vulnerable, or the content of sanctions is not nominal, but has an effective impact on the economy and the military support of the belligerent power. In other words, the initiator of the sanctions must be much more powerful; the success of any sanctions depends on this factor to some degree.

In the case of Turkey and Israel, however, Tel Aviv cannot be said to be critically dependent on Ankara for economic, defense and security purposes. Although, of course, oil from Azerbaijan and Turkey transits through Turkey to Israel. Accordingly, if Ankara’s sanctions were to affect these products, Tel Aviv could have temporary but critical difficulties. What did it turn out to be in reality?

On April 8, according to the Turkish daily Yirmidört (24), Turkey’s Ministry of Trade imposed restrictions on exports of manufactured goods to Israel on 54 items. The sanctions are to be in effect from April 9 until the end of hostilities in the Gaza Strip. The sanctions list included various aluminum and steel goods, electric cables, fertilizers, oils, marble, bricks, jet fuel, some types of machinery, and other goods.

On the one hand, the quantification of sanctions on 54 items seems to indicate serious measures of pressure imposed by Turkey. On the other hand, the contents of the list suggest otherwise. How can limiting the supply of Turkish marble or fertilizer bricks affect the fighting and reduce the offensive capabilities of the IDF? This is causing, to put it mildly, an unserious reaction not only in Israel, but far beyond the Middle East.

For example, Grigory Lukyanov, a senior lecturer at the National Research University Higher School of Economics and a researcher at the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, notes in this regard that notes: “In my opinion, this statement will not have a serious effect. It is unlikely to rally Muslim countries in some sort of desire to use economic tools to pressure Israel, and it will not affect the behavior of the Israeli political leadership, both with regard to Palestine, the Gaza Strip, and, by extension, the Palestinian Hamas movement. Trade with Turkey is not especially critical for Israel at all, despite the crisis phenomena and the difficult situation for the country’s economy.”

Key Gulf Arab countries (particularly the UAE and Saudi Arabia) are generally interested in developing mutually beneficial trade cooperation with Israel. Moreover, trade with Israel is not only about quality goods and the latest technology, but also about considerations of political advantage, given Tel Aviv’s strategic alliance with Washington. Even with the ongoing military conflict in the Gaza Strip, Abu Dhabi still intends to preserve the potential of the Abraham Accords with Israel, and Riyadh does not rule out expanding trade ties with Tel Aviv in the future, that is, after the cessation of hostilities in the Gaza Strip.

Although Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has called those Islamic countries that cooperate with Israel traitors, the 6-month-long military conflict between Hamas and the IDF shows that there is no consolidated position among the countries of the Islamic world towards the Jewish state.

In response to the Turkish sanctions, Israeli Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz said that Tel Aviv will take retaliatory measures (in particular, it will try to influence third countries, including the U.S., to limit imports of Turkish goods and exports of its own products to Ankara). In doing so, Mr. Katz said, “Israel will not submit to violence and extortion, will not tolerate unilateral violation of trade agreements and will take parallel measures against Turkey that will damage the Turkish economy. I have ordered another list of products whose exports Israel will prevent.”

Donald Trump, former US President and current chief opponent of incumbent President Joe Biden, in this November’s upcoming election, recently expressed extreme surprise that American Jews might vote for Democrats and the demented old man Joe Biden has lost touch with reality, and, according to Trump, has betrayed Israel and supports Palestine. Apparently, with this statement, Republican Donald Trump is simply trying to gain the support of a particularly influential Jewish diaspora in the United States, who can decide important economic and political issues in America (including having a key impact on the outcome of the presidential election).

What about President Recip Erdoğan, set to meet May 9 with US President Biden, who, like Trump, badly needs American Jewish votes? Apparently, this unfavorable outlook influenced the Turkish Ministry of Commerce’s list of 54 items of industrial goods.

In addition, Israel continues active military and technical cooperation with Turkey’s main ally Azerbaijan, supplying Baku with modern weapons, knowing full well that these technologies will be available to the same Ankara.

For now, Turkish diplomacy feigns a particular dislike for the actions of the Netanyahu government, but has no other means of influencing it. Except to ask President Joseph Biden to “press” Israel to allow uninterrupted Turkish humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip. To this end

Turkey is already setting up a 12-nation flotilla to help Gaza.


Alexander SVARANTS – Doctor of Political Sciences, Professor, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook

Related articles: