Those who have been following this column will know that since the first Hamas attack on October 7, President Erdoğan had clearly expressed his reaction both to Hamas and then to Israel. From the very beginning, he had also expressed in all his phone calls that “Civilians should not die” regardless of which side they were on. On October 13, I wrote in this column that Ankara had contacted Hamas and conveyed its reaction. In fact, in meetings at various levels, including President Erdoğan himself, Hamas was asked “What are you doing?” in reference to the October 7 attack, and was told that Turkey was uncomfortable with the attack in which civilians lost their lives. However, I should also share the information that no one was directly told to “leave.” A similar warning was given to the Israeli authorities who used more and more force and killed civilians in the immediate aftermath of October 7. It is useful to make the following reminder and observations:
– President Erdoğan is the only leader who has always opposed civilian deaths, regardless of side, and has shared this with his counterparts.
– Ankara has met many times with all actors to stop civilian deaths. It presented the guarantors formula.
– At this point, in order to prevent the humanitarian tragedy and war from spreading to the whole region with a spark, the message is “It’s time to stop”.
IRAN DOES NOT WANT THE WAR TO SPREAD
It is well known that from the very beginning, the main policy of the United States has been to ensure that no Arab coalition combination becomes more powerful than Israel in order to ensure Israel’s survival. The country that worries the US and Israel the most is Iran… Iran has issued stern warnings that Israel’s attack on Gaza will not go unanswered. It is a fact that Iran funds, trains and arms a number of Shiite militia groups. The most prominent of these is Hezbollah in Lebanon on Israel’s northern border. There is a serious possibility that Hezbollah will open a new front on Israel’s northern border and the Israeli army will be forced to fight on two fronts. The United States is among those who do not want this possibility, Iranian intervention and the spread of war in the region. However, the region is sitting on a grenade with the pin pulled. Ankara is in contact with Iran at various levels. Ankara’s impression is that Iran does not want a regional war and will not allow it to spread.
ALL POSSIBILITIES ARE BEING EVALUATED
Ankara says “it’s time to stop” and all possibilities are being evaluated. The main issue is to stop civilian deaths as soon as possible. On the other hand, attention is also drawn to the three dimensions I will list below.
The scale of Israel’s ground operation is under scrutiny. As some Israeli officials have said, an operation that could last three or four months would inevitably entail certain risks. Although Iran does not want the war to spread, a possible intervention by Hezbollah could take the developments in the region to different dimensions. The worst-case scenario is that Iran would wage a proxy war against Israel through Lebanon.
It is precisely because of this possibility that the US sent its warships to the region. According to reports, this is precisely the reason why the US said “Stop” to Israel, which wanted to launch a comprehensive ground operation immediately. Out of concern that an ill-planned ground operation could lead to unintended consequences in the region and the world. Israel, on the other hand, is playing a “game of chicken”. While preparing for a ground operation, Israel is bombarding Gaza from the air with an atrocity never seen before in history, massacring civilians.
Due to the pandemic, the Russia-Ukraine war, many countries, including the world’s major economies, are struggling to curb inflation. A new regional war would increase oil and natural gas prices and upset the world economy. It is assessed that global and regional actors will oppose the spread of war in economic terms.
In recent years, with the Abraham Accords, Israel not only opened the door to normalization with the Arab world, but also established bilateral economic and commercial relations. In a sense, Israel’s official isolation in the region was over. It would not be wrong to say that even the continuation of the war and Israel’s failure to stop will soon put all Arab countries, despite their leaders, in the opposite direction of normalization.
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