May 21, 2024

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Erdogan is pulling the strings with Israel, and he will not risk it now with Greece

Erdogan is pulling the strings with Israel, and he will not risk it now with Greece

At this point, Erdogan could choose further escalation against Israel, but he would not risk it with Greece or Egypt.

He cannot open new fronts, as Israel and the Americans confront him, and with the issue of the Turkish economy always open, as well as the sale of F-16 aircraft, as international expert Konstantinos Filis says, in his interview with Liberal, on the occasion of Turkey’s decision to sever trade relations with Tel Aviv. .

But he makes it clear that he is referring to the current situation and that he will not risk the estimation of the future for Erdogan, who flipped the switch and chose to play the “card” of the leader of the Islamic world before the Islamic world. end.

He does not even rule out withdrawing the Turkish ambassador from Tel Aviv, but regarding trade relations, he explains that it remains to be seen whether they will be cut in reality or in appearance.

This is to pretend that the ban is in effect, but Turkish exports continue in the form of abuse. This may mean that some Turkish products are exported to Azerbaijan and through them re-exported to Israel.

Interview with Giorgos Ventikakis.

What does Türkiye's decision to suspend its trade relations with Israel mean?

It seems that Erdogan flipped the switch. Where he had been gradually restoring Turkey's relations with neighboring countries and trying to restore normalcy with Israel, Greece and Egypt (in this chronological order), he now chose to play his leader's “card” until the end of the Islamic world. .

With Greece and Egypt, I believe that Turkey, for the time being, will maintain relations at a level of relative normality, as Erdogan learned from the mistakes of the past, when he pitted all the neighboring countries against each other.

He saw the ramifications of his choice, and in the past decade he has seen relations between Greece, Israel, Egypt and Cyprus blossom with the various partnerships we have seen unfold in the region.

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He found himself in a position of watching the foundations being laid for important energy projects, defense cooperation and tourism, with Turkey always standing on the sidelines. I believe that something has been learned from all this, which is why in recent years efforts have been launched to restore relations with neighbors other than Cyprus.

Therefore, I believe in this new era, Türkiye’s aggression will be limited to Israel.

The first phase of this transformation occurred when the war broke out in Gaza. The initial numbness with which Turkey faced the Hamas attack was followed by Erdogan's decision to support it, as it was not easy to turn his back neither on the past nor on the organic relations with the Muslim Brotherhood, of which this particular group is a member. part.

As Israeli operations continued, Erdogan seized the opportunity to claim the position of protector of Arabs and persecuted Palestinians everywhere, despite Turkey being a non-Arab country. It is the second stage of this transformation in Türkiye.

The third stage came after the self-rule elections on March 31 and the new political reality it created. In this context, Erdogan has become more aware of the importance to him of Islamist, Islamist and conservative parties, especially Erbakan’s son’s party. With his votes, he won the presidential elections, and without them, he lost the region on March 31. I remind you that the Prosperity Party ranked third in the municipal elections.

In this new political map, after the defeats suffered by the candidates supported by the Justice and Development Party in Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir, as well as in the region for the first time in 22 years of his rule, a necessity arose for Erdogan. To associate with the Islamists, that is, that part of the Turkish political scene, which before self-rule told him to cut off commercial relations with Israel, and in general relations with it.

Even then, Erdogan had refused to do so. It should be noted that during the difficult decade of diplomatic relations between Turkey and Israel, Ankara never broke off bilateral trade relations, but on the contrary, they were strengthened.

But faced with the new political reality, Erdogan decided, at least on the surface, that it was time to sacrifice Turkey's trade relations with Israel, which amount to nearly 7 billion euros, the majority of it related to Turkish exports.

He did this to appear tough on Israel, which pleased the Islamists at home and the Arab and Islamic masses abroad.

You said that he decided to sacrifice Turkish-Israeli trade relations “at least superficially.” What do you mean;

I mean, as with the sanctions on Russia, in this particular case, there is a possibility that even though this ban may appear to be in place, Turkish exports may actually continue in the form of a bypass. In other words, some Turkish products are exported to Azerbaijan and from there re-exported to Israel.

Could we see in this new reality further escalation on the part of Türkiye, such as the severing of diplomatic relations?

The next step is certainly to sever diplomatic relations. I do not rule that out. After all, Türkiye has nothing else to do.

It has officially severed its trade ties with Israel, will support South Africa's appeal against Israel in The Hague, and speaks out daily about the genocide of Palestinians, while Erdogan constantly compares Netanyahu to Hitler and the Nazis. This description is very heavy for the Israelis, and their memories are very strong.

In essence, Erdogan is investing in Türkiye's future in relations with Israel. He considers Netanyahu a political “corpse” and believes that if the situation changes, things will be much better for him.

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It is estimated that in the meantime it will have won so many points among the Arab and Muslim population, as well as among the Palestinians, that Turkey will be able to play a game in the region, while strengthening its role, even with Israel in return.

After all, the image he projects is that of a leader who stands up not only to Israel – when Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the UAE hesitate to do so – but also to the Americans, which gives him more esteem among the audience he addresses. . In fact, it links the blockade to the ceasefire in Gaza, so that it can be reversed depending on developments.

I have previously assessed that Turkey, at least for the time being, will not choose to disrupt normalcy in relations with Greece and Egypt. Does this mean that in the second year we may see an adjustment in Türkiye’s foreign policy that directly concerns us?

I have previously told you that in the past decade, Turkey has witnessed the development of relations between Greece, Israel, Egypt and Cyprus with various partnerships between them and with its permanent presence outside them. He learned from this mistake.

But let me tell you differently. Even if he had not learned, Turkey today cannot afford to open new fronts, whether with Greece or with Egypt, facing Israel and the Americans, and with the issue of its economy, as well as the sale of F-16 aircraft.

Therefore, he will not take any risks now, for the time being, with Greece. I won't hazard a guess about the future.

*Konstantinos Filis is an associate professor at the American College of Greece, an ANT1 international affairs analyst, and host of “Greece in Her World,” which airs on the ANT1+ platform.