Blinken from Erdogan in Turkey: from Gaza to the F-16s the issues on the table

The US Secretary of State will meet with the Turkish president today

The US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is in Istanbul today, in Turkey, for the first stop of his new tour in the region, the fourth since Hamas’ assault on Israel last October 7. Blinken, who will visit nine countries in seven days, will meet today in Istanbul with Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan before flying to Greece. He is expected to arrive in Israel on Monday.

As anticipated by US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller, Blinken will also discuss with Turkish officials the final steps to be taken to ratify Sweden’s full membership of NATO. Also on the agenda the sale of F-16s from the United States to Türkiye and, of course, the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas.

Other stops on Blinken’s mission are Jordan, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, the West Bank and Egypt. The first objective of the tour, as explained by Miller, will be to obtain ”immediate measures to increase humanitarian assistance to the population of Gaza”. In Israel, Miller added, Blinken will talk about the ongoing military campaign against Hamas, including plans to transition to the next phase of operations and steps Israelis can take to better protect civilians. Blinken will also discuss ongoing efforts to bring home hostages still in the Gaza Strip, including American citizens who remain missing. Additionally, Miller said, Blinken will focus on how he can prevent the conflict from spreading. “He will discuss specific steps the parties can take, including how they can use their influence with others in the region to avoid escalation,” Miller stressed.

Blinken’s commitment will also be to underline the responsibility of all parties to help chart a path for Gaza that achieves lasting security for both Israelis and Palestinians, as well as a more peaceful and integrated region “based on the principles established in Tokyo last November and that provides for a lasting mechanism for the reconstruction and Palestinian-led governance of a unified West Bank in Gaza,” Miller said.

Hamas leader’s appeal to Blinken: “Focus on ending attacks on Palestinians”

Blinken should “focus his visit on ending attacks on the Palestinian people and on the path to ending the occupation.” According to what ‘L’Orient-Le Jour’ reports, this was stated by the leader of Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh, who urged the leaders that Blinken will meet on his tour of the Middle East to insist on the fact that the stability of the region depends on the Palestinian cause. “Violence and destruction – he underlines – will not allow security and stability to be achieved until the Palestinian people have achieved freedom and an independent state”.