Turkey has been trying to carefully calibrate its stance in the face of the war that Hamas launched against Israel on Oct. 7, maintaining its advocacy of the Palestinian cause while cooling ties with Hamas and seeking to avoid a fresh fallout with Israel.
The crisis hit at a time when Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is pursuing normalization with regional powers including Israel. After years of bilateral spats, Erdogan met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York last month and invited him to visit Ankara.
At first glance, one could suggest that the Erdogan government’s close relations with Hamas have now driven it into a corner. Moreover, one could expect growing US pressure on Ankara to sever ties with Hamas after the dust settles.
Nevertheless, for the West, Turkey at present represents a partner who can talk to Hamas, and this serves as a sort of lightning rod for Erdogan’s government. The calls made to Ankara requesting its mediation for the release of foreign hostages held by Hamas have given Erdogan the opportunity to play the role he was hoping for.