Turkey’s foreign minister on November 1 failed to respond to a call from his Iranian counterpart for a ban on shipping oil to Israel.
“We need to stop sending fuel to Israel, and we need to cut off our political and diplomatic relations,” Iran’s top diplomat Hossein Amir-Abdollahian stated on a visit to Ankara, while standing alongside Hakan Fidan at a joint press conference focused on the Israel-Hamas war in the Gaza Strip.
But, as reported by Al-Monitor, Fidan left Amir-Abdollahian’s call hanging in the air, and instead turned to stressing the need for a two-state solution in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, reiterating that Turkey was prepared to "take responsibility and be guarantor" in a potential peace agreement between the two sides.
Amir-Abdollahian’s remarks on stopping oil flows to Israel could be taken as a jab at Turkey’s close ally Azerbaijan, the largest Muslim-majority oil exporter to Israel—it is piped Azerbaijani oil that Turkey continues to ship to Israel from its Mediterranean oil hub port Ceyhan, despite the Erdogan administration’s fiery condemnation of the Israelis as “war criminals” for their brutal bombardment and besieging of Gaza. Iran, which has been supportive of Armenia in its conflict with Azerbaijan, has difficult relations with the Azerbaijanis.
Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has said all Muslim countries should halt trade with Israel, including oil exports.
Amir-Abdollahian visited Ankara following meetings with Qatari leaders and the leadership of Hamas’ Qatar-based political bureau. He also met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Adding to anxieties that the Gaza conflict could spark a regional conflagration, Amir-Abdollahian also said at the press briefing: “The region is very close to making a monumental and decisive decision if [Israeli] genocide and war crimes are not stopped.”
The Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza said on November 1 that around 8,800 people have been killed by Israeli strikes on the Palestinian territory, including more than 3,600 children.
Also on November 1, Reuters reported a Turkish diplomatic source as saying that US top diplomat Antony Blinken will visit Ankara on November 5.
In another report, Al-Monitor said that the US on October 31 made the rare move of deploying a pair of B-1B Lancer bombers to Turkey’s Incirlik air base for military drills focused on refuelling.
The government of Turkey, a Nato member, said in a statement: "The refuelling of aircraft from Incirlik base has nothing to do with the conflicts in the region."
However, the deployment will be seen by some observers as a US show of strength at a sensitive and volatile time in the Middle East.