| 24 September 2022, Saturday |

Turkey, Israel can supply gas to Europe, Erdogan says

Turkey and Israel will hold talks next month, where energy cooperaion and carrying natural gas from Israel to Europe will be discussed, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan was cited as saying today.

Turkey has been working to mend its strained regional ties with Israel and other nations as part of a charm offensive launched in 2020. In an apparent easing after years of animosity, Erdogan said yesterday that Israeli President Isaac Herzog will visit Turkey in mid-March.

Speaking to reporters on a return flight from Kyiv, Erdogan said energy cooperation would be on the agenda during Herzog’s visit, and added Ankara was also in talks on signing a natural gas supply deal with Iraq, according to Turkish media.

Relations between Turkey and Israel deteriorated after the assault by Israeli commandos on the Turkish-registered Mavi Marmara in international waters in May 2010; nine Turkish citizens on board were killed and another died of his wounds later. The ship was sailing towards the Gaza Strip as part of the Freedom Flotilla to break the Israeli-led siege of the Palestinian enclave. At the time, Ankara recalled its ambassador from Tel Aviv.

Relations between Saudi and it’s Gulf neighbours and Turkey have been increasingly strained by diplomatic differences and by each other’s involvement in the Syrian civil war, and especially by Turkey’s support of Qatar following the blockade imposed on it by the kingdom, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Egypt in 2017.

They reached breaking point with the murder of US-based Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October 2018. Following months of investigations into the murder and a UN report concluding that Saudi agents killed Khashoggi under the direct command of Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, Turkey has repeatedly called for those responsible to be brought to justice.

Consequently, the kingdom has been pushing a campaign to encourage its tourists to boycott Turkey through all possible means, including the purchase of products, consumption of foods, sale of properties, dealings with Turkish companies, and especially tourism to the country. The campaign has garnered support amongst Saudi royals and figures, a famous case being when Riyadh’s influential governor Faisal Bin Bandar declined an offer of Turkish coffee, triggering a call for a boycott of Turkish products.

In August 2019, Saudi’s Ministry of Education made a series of modifications to its history books, altering the legacy of the Ottoman Empire and referring to it as an “occupation”.

Ties have since improved after the Saudi-led blockage of Qatar came to an end in January 2021.