Why Turkey Is Trying to Charm Israel

On October 27, the Israeli defense minister Benny Gantz visited Turkey, in another sign of the thaw between the two counties that began in March. David May and Sinan Ciddi see this as a promising step, but caution against too much enthusiasm for the reconciliation between Jerusalem and Ankara, former long-times allies whose relations went from cool to hostile in the 21st century:

Recep Tayyip Erdogan is seeking a third term as president when he is arguably at his weakest politically. His unpopularity is mainly due to the country’s sluggish economy. [But] Erdogan’s position is also precarious due to increasing reliance on Russia since 2016 for energy security, weapons procurement, and Turkey’s “security” goals in Syria. Vladimir Putin’s isolation and toxicity following his invasion of Ukraine have forced Turkey to look elsewhere. . . . Turkey has expressed its willingness to reduce its dependence on Russia by helping pipe Israeli gas to Europe, but Turkey’s prospective deal is little more than a pipe dream.

Erdogan’s charm offensive with Israel signals that Turkey can turn on a dime and reduce its dependence on Moscow. In doing so, Erdogan continues to gesture to regional powers, such as Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, and Turkey’s Western allies, that it remains relevant and, to a limited degree, can be an asset. Turkey’s brokering of a major grain-shipment deal from Ukraine that helped avert a world food shortage and the sale of TB2 drones to the Ukrainian military demonstrated its utility.

Israel has several interests in improved ties with Turkey, but the most direct one is inducing Turkey to expel Hamas. Beyond that, there is value in being on good terms with what is arguably the strongest military in the Middle East, a major energy rival, and a country that is operating in Syria, close to Israel.

The pillars of the Israel-Turkey relationship—energy and defense cooperation—require long-term agreements built on mutual trust, not Erdogan’s capricious vacillation between enmity and cooperation. Ejecting Hamas would be a good start, and the decrease in overt hostility is certainly positive, but Gantz’s visit is, at best, window dressing on a cold peace.

Read more at National Interest

More about: Hamas, Israeli Security, Natural Gas, Turkey


To Save Gaza, the U.S. Needs a Strategy to Restrain Iran

Since the outbreak of war on October 7, America has given Israel much support, and also much advice. Seth Cropsey argues that some of that advice hasn’t been especially good:

American demands for “restraint” and a “lighter footprint” provide significant elements of Hamas’s command structure, including Yahya Sinwar, the architect of 10/7, a far greater chance of surviving and preserving the organization’s capabilities. Its threat will persist to some extent in any case, since it has significant assets in Lebanon and is poised to enter into a full-fledged partnership with Hizballah that would give it access to Lebanon’s Palestinian refugee camps for recruitment and to Iranian-supported ratlines into Jordan and Syria.

Turning to the aftermath of the war, Cropsey observes that it will take a different kind of involvement for the U.S. to get the outcomes it desires, namely an alternative to Israeli and to Hamas rule in Gaza that comes with buy-in from its Arab allies:

The only way that Gaza can be governed in a sustainable and stable manner is through the participation of Arab states, and in particular the Gulf Arabs, and the only power that can deliver their participation is the United States. A grand bargain is impossible unless the U.S. exerts enough leverage to induce one.

Militarily speaking, the U.S. has shown no desire seriously to curb Iranian power. It has persistently signaled a desire to avoid escalation. . . . The Gulf Arabs understand this. They have no desire to engage in serious strategic dialogue with Washington and Jerusalem over Iran strategy, since Washington does not have an Iran strategy.

Gaza’s fate is a small part of a much broader strategic struggle. Unless this is recognized, any diplomatic master plan will degenerate into a diplomatic parlor game.

Read more at National Review

More about: Gaza War 2023, Iran, U.S. Foreign policy