Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu could no longer hold back his tears as he was paying his condolences Tuesday night to the family of a young man killed in Israel’s attacks on Gaza.
We have to assume that he could have shed the same tears if he were visiting the house of an Israeli whose son was killed by Hamas fire. He would have to acknowledge the tears of those who remain in the name of humanity in Realpolitik, not as a sign of exhausting all Turkish chances to stop this terrible war from growing into a worse one.
Otherwise, we would have ignored ongoing Turkish political, diplomatic and intelligence efforts to assist Egypt’s coordination to secure a cease-fire between Hamas and Israel and also a number of the means that Turkish diplomacy is still holding in its hands.
The fact that Egypt is carrying out a pivotal role in the shuttle diplomacy to avert a large-scale Israeli attack on Gaza and that Turkey failed short to assume a bigger role than the one it desires today features reasons out of Ankara’s control. The Arab Spring and the Tahrir Revolution have changed the political atmosphere in Egypt in a radical way, causing to country to rise from its ashes into a model for Arab countries, and now for a democratic path as well.
The reason Turkey is not able to use some of the diplomatic tools in its hands is due to political reasons. Turkey has had no relations with Israel since 2011, after the failing of talks between the two to obtain an Israeli apology over the killing of nine Turks in 2010 on board the Mavi Marmara ship to break the Israeli embargo on the Hamas-controlled Palestinian territory of Gaza. In diplomacy, your persuasive power is limited to the number of parties in the conflict that you are in contact with. Turkey is talking to Hamas; Egypt on the other hand is talking to both Hamas and Israel.
There is also the criticism by Turkish main opposition leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, who claimed Tuesday that Turkey has been drawn into the quagmire of the East as Turkey gets distanced from the West, namely the European Union.
Turkey’s region is likely to face a new crisis; Iraq could be next. It is a must for Turkey to focus on humanitarian values in its foreign policy and continue to follow a balanced strategy at the same time. Davutoğlu does not want to shed more tears because of more human tragedies, while Turks do not want to see their foreign minister shedding more tears either.