Global View

Turkey intervenes in the Persian Gulf conflict

The Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan paid an official visit to Qatar Emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani. President Erdogan arrived in Doha after meeting with Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al-Saud and Mohammed bin Salman on July 23 in Jeddah to discuss the Qatar crisis. The visit was aimed at mitigating the diplomatic crisis involving Qatar and four other Arab nations, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain. Thereby, Erdogan has visited Saudi Arabia and Kuwait as part of a Golf tournament meant to help to diminish the conflict.

Erdogan arrived in Doha on July 24th and he was met by Emir Qatari Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani after meeting with Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al-Saud. Saudi Arabia leads the bloc of four nations that had sanctioned Qatar. President Erdogan said the meetings were meant to find a solution to the Qatar crisis triggered in early June. Qatar is subject to sanctions by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Egypt, and it is accused of supporting extremists and terrorist groups and being an ally of Iran. These countries have presented Qatar with a list of 13 requirements that need to be met to lift sanctions and restore the diplomatic relations. These include: closing the Al-Jazeera network, breaking off the ties with Iran, and closing the Turkish military base in Qatar (opened in 2016).

The Qatar crisis that broke out last month involves two other economic partners of Ankara, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, on the one hand, and Turkey’s closest strategic partner in the region, Qatar, on the other hand. The boycott set up by the four countries forced the Emirate to import food by sea and air to meet the basic needs of its population of 2.7 million. Turkey has a military base in Qatar, considering it a key ally in the region.

Turkish President’ Spokesman Ibrahim Kalinsaid said President Erdogan voiced support for Kuwait-led mediation efforts and said the ongoing initiatives to resolve the crisis through dialogue should continue. Also, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, who accompanied Erdogan during his visits to the Gulf region, said Turkey is trying to hold direct talks between the conflicting parties.

Erdogan is the fifth highest visitor outside the Gulf that is trying to resolve the dispute since its outbreak on June 5, 2017.

Diplomats from the UK, France, Germany and the United States visited all the countries in the region, highlighting the concern for a possible widening of the crisis beyond the Gulf area. British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson asks the embargo on Qatar to be removed. He supported the call for Qatar’s emir dialogue to resolve the diplomatic dispute.

Kuwait also tried to mediate the dispute, but so far, the efforts have not been successful. The attempts by Kuwait and the West to end the crisis have not worked so far.

Turkey and Qatar have been important supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood movement, while Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have designated the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization. Turkey has rejected the ultimatum of Saudi Arabia and its allies and sent more troops to Qatar to maintain order and security.

Turkey has helped Doha during the land, sea and air blockade between Qatar and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) – Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. Ankara has accelerated the sending of troops to its new base near Doha in the early stages of the crisis, when Sheikh Tamim was subjected to acute pressure. Turkey has also sent hundreds of cargos of food and other commodities to compensate for the loss of a large volume of trade. In turn, the Qatari special forces were willing to protect President Erdogan after the 2016 state coup failed to remove him from power.

Turkey’s main construction firms are trying to get contracts in Doha in increasing numbers. One of Turkey’s priorities is to attract foreign investment and capital from Qatar, one of the richest countries in the world. Qatar’s investment in Turkey exceeds $ 20 billion, mainly in agriculture, tourism and real estate, and it is expecting the investment to be higher in a few years. These aspects suggest the high level of bilateral relations between the two states.

President Erdogan left Qatar after failing to help in resolving the Gulf conflict. According to the QNA News Agency, Qatar’s Emir, Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, reviewed the regional developments, especially the Gulf crisis and the efforts to resolve them by diplomatic means. The agency said the talks with the Turkish President also focused on joint efforts to fight terrorism and defense and economic cooperation.

Various webpages and several Qatar-linked TV channels have been unlocked in Saudi Arabia, but the change has emerged from a technical problem. As part of the boycott of Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the Emirates have blocked the Al Jazeera television network and Qatar’s beIN Sports spin-off channels. But on the morning of July 24, Saudi Arabian audiences reported that beIN Sports and web pages were back in operation, while Al Jazeera remained blocked.

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