RSIS presents the following commentary Mounting Israeli-Iranian Tension: Turkey in the Middle by
Turkey in the Middle
Israeli and Iranian sabre-rattling, coupled with Turkey's determination to keep relations with Israel in deep freeze as it pressures Tel Aviv to lift its blockade of the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, threaten to undermine Turkey’s influence in the Middle East and North Africa.
To drive the point home, Turkey last week allowed two Irish and Canadian-flagged aid ships to set sail for Gaza from a Turkish port for a renewed attempt to run the Israeli blockade. The two ships were intercepted by Israel and escorted to the port of Ashdod. By ensuring that the two ships were flying foreign flags and had no Turkish nationals on board, Turkey sought to avoid an armed confrontation with Israel.
While Turkish defence and military officials have little doubt that Israel would prevail in a military confrontation with Iran, even if it is unlikely to fully destroy Iran's decentralised and heavily fortified nuclear facilities, they worry about the effects of likely Iranian retaliatory attacks against Israel as well as US targets in the Gulf and Afghanistan, for that would escalate the confrontation with Iran.
James M. Dorsey is a Senior Fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University. He has been a journalist covering the Middle East for over 30 years.
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