World War III watch: Iran wants a fight and Turkey takes a swing, too

World War III watch: Iran wants a fight and Turkey takes a swing, too

Turkey's authoritarian president, Recep Erdogan, is pictured at an Oct. 28 rally for Hamas in which he threatened Israel with military action. 

World War III watch: Iran wants a fight and Turkey takes a swing, too

A national security expert says the suggestion the current Israel-Hamas war could escalate into World War III is a possibility because several key players are escalating toward a regional conflict. Then there is the issue of NATO ally Turkey, too.

In an interview on American Family Radio, national security expert David Grantham said major players around the world are currently hovering in a high state of alert as they watch Israel's military push into Gaza to find and kill Hamas terrorists. While that offensive is getting started Iran is looking for a reason to attack, he said, then the U.S. would retaliate against Iran.

Last week, the U.S. launched air strikes against two locations in eastern Syria with links to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corp. The strikes destroyed two facilities used to stores missiles and drones used by the Iranian-backed militias, which have attacked U.S. military forces in the region in the latest example of Middle East escalation. 

U.S. forces in the Middle East have been attacked 23 times over the past two weeks, Fox News reported Monday. 

“I’m afraid we do have World War III on our hands. It’s just a matter of time,” Grantham told show host Jenna Ellis. 

Iran’s decades-long support for Hamas and other enemies of Israel, plus its own stated belief that Israel should not exist, plus its own public response after the Hamas attack of Oct. 7, have put Iran and its Islamic leaders in the spotlight with regional observers wondering what moves it will make next.

Turkey, however, hasn’t attracted as much attention, but it’s standing as a NATO member binds other members – like the United States – to support Turkey if it’s attacked.

“Turkey, in my opinion, is one of the ones that should they take action, it could expand the war greatly," Grantham warned. "Iran's kind of a given, but everyone's focused on Iran so Iran has to be very careful."

Turkish president praises 'freedom fighters'

Turkey, which is home to three U.S. military bases, is ruled by President Tayyip Erdogan, an Islamist. At a massive pro-Palestinian rally over the weekend, Erdogan called Hamas "freedom fighters" and called Israel an “occupier," which are familiar words from the Islamic world.

Grantham, David Grantham

In that speech the authoritarian president of Turkey also directly threatened Israel, too, which promoted Israel to withdraw its diplomats from Turkey over the speech. 

“Erdogan is a populist," Grantham says of the Turkish ruler. "He’s about himself, but he also leans towards the Islamists when ISIS was able to secure a lot of travel and funding through Turkey. Turkey has long supported Hamas, at least under the current administration. Hamas operatives have worked out of Turkey. There were rumors that they may have hatched some of this plan from Turkey. The current administration is absolutely in bed with Hamas in that way." 

Turkey could choose to ignore NATO and the U.S., and strengthen its relationship with Russia that is already troublesome, Grantham said.

And Turkey has something else to offer, too. Since the vital Black Sea is located between Russia to the north and Turkey to the south, Turkey controls the Turkish Straits in the southern portion of the Black Sea. Whoever controls those important straits controls access to the Mediterranean Sea.

“Russia would love to be able to use those Turkish straits to get into the Mediterranean,” Grantham said.

Turkey could be the chess piece that decides the moves of a number of other countries depending on where it lands on the board.

“Should Turkey decide Russia is more of a strategic partner than the United States," Grantham warns, "it will involve other countries directly and there will be no ability to just isolate the war. Those are all key decisions, and the war will grow because of its relationships." 

Turkey's plans and motives aside, Israel is trying to walk a tightrope by trying to anger neither the United States nor Russia.

“Israel has a very delicate relationship with Russia and a very important relationship with the U. S. It becomes this very delicate balancing act they have to make,” Grantham said.

Israel has never supported Russia in its war with Ukraine and that has impacted the relationship between Russia and Iran.

“Russia would eventually look somewhere else for support. Iran took that opportunity, and Russia gave them kind of a little bit of runway, in my opinion, so that if they decided to help carry out an attack against Israel, Russia wasn't going to stand in their way," Grantham observed. 

Iran eager to justify future attack

Back on the topic of Iran, Grantham told the radio program the world now knows Hamas couldn't have attacked Oct. 7 without support from its vital partner, Iran. Even if Iran wasn't directly involved in the attack itself, Iran knew about the plans and now knows its enemies know it was involved, too. 

Grantham believes Iran is itching for a reason to attack Israel. It had hoped the hospital bombing in Gaza would be that justification but it was proven that Israel did not bomb the hospital.

“Iran is not seeking truth to bring evidence against Israel to justify action," Grantham said. "They're looking for anything that will give them enough space to conduct action before anyone has any time to really ask the questions about whether it's true or not." 

So far Iran has just sat back and let its proxies – Hamas, Hezbollah, Syria, Yemen and Iraq – do the dirty work including attacks against Americans, Grantham said.

Iran may be involved with too many proxies for its own good, CNN says.

Meanwhile, Iran's foreign minister threatened the United States last week while speaking at the United Nations. "I say frankly to the American statesmen who are now managing the genocide in Palestine," Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said. "I warn, if the genocide in Gaza continues, they will not be spared from this fire."

“They’re using their proxies to engage American forces and engage any forces that are going to support Israel, but they're doing so in kind of a tit for tat manner, more or less,” Grantham said. “It’s hard to tell exactly what the intent is. It seems to be they're going to continue to test each opportunity, and I believe Iran is looking for an excuse."