Can Turkey be a mediator in Qatar crisis?

Commentary Materials 6 June 2017 21:14 (UTC +04:00)
Immediately after the Qatar crisis broke out, the Turkish Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying that Turkey is ready to become a mediator in resolving the crisis
Can Turkey be a mediator in Qatar crisis?

Baku, Azerbaijan, June 6

By Rufiz Hafizoglu – Trend:

Immediately after the Qatar crisis broke out, the Turkish Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying that Turkey is ready to become a mediator in resolving the crisis. Meanwhile, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had a number of phone conversations with the leaders of foreign countries, where the main topic of discussion was the Qatar crisis.

According to the Turkish presidential administration, Erdogan had telephone conversations with Qatari Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Amir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jabir Al-Sabah and King of Saudi Arabia Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.

To understand the importance of Qatar for Turkey, it is worth recalling the relations between the two countries, as well as Turkey's relations with the Arab countries in recent years. Firstly, despite Turkey and Saudi Arabia have normal relations now, the relations between Ankara and Doha are much stronger than those with Riyadh or Abu Dhabi. Secondly, Qatar is the 18th biggest investor in the world. The total amount of Qatar's investments worldwide is $335 billion, while Qatar’s investments in Turkey amount to $18 billion. Qatar has also acquired a number of big companies and banks in Turkey since 2015, such as QNB Finansbank, ABank, Digiturk, BMC and Boyner. Meanwhile, Turkish investments in Qatar amount to $14.2 billion. Turkish companies are engaged in about 130 projects, including the construction of a subway in Doha, which costs $4.4 billion. Qatar and Turkey also had a trade turnover of $692 million in 2016.

But, of course, Turkey is concerned not only with Qatar’s economic interests. At present, Qatar is the only reliable ally of Turkey in the region, and also Turkey has a military base in Qatar.

Despite some experts say that the Qatar crisis can only indirectly affect Turkey, Ankara has something to fear. Ankara understands that if Qatar faces serious economic problems, it will primarily affect Turkey. All this, of course, pushes Ankara to mediation in resolving the crisis.

But how real is Turkey’s chance to solve the Qatar crisis?

No matter how hard Ankara tries to solve this problem, it will not be so easy. The key countries in the Qatar crisis are primarily the US, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the UAE. And in order to conclude whether Ankara has chances to become a mediator between these countries and Qatar, it is necessary to look at Turkey’s relations with these countries separately.

Turkey and the US

The US and Turkey have close relations. But there is a crisis in these relations. First of all, this is connected with the US providing Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Democratic Union Party (PYD), considered as terrorist groups in Turkey, with weapons in the operations against the so-called Islamic State (IS aka ISIS/ISIL) in Syria.

Secondly, despite Turkey’s all efforts, the US has not yet extradited leader of the Hizmet movement Fethullah Gulen, who was involved in the recent military coup attempt in Turkey.

The media is silent about another important thing. The Trump administration looks at the IS and the Muslim Brotherhood within one and the same context, while Muslim Brotherhood is not considered by Turkey as a terrorist organization.

Turkey and Egypt

After General Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi overthrew Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi in July 2013, who was a member of Muslim Brotherhood, the relations between Turkey and Egypt greatly deteriorated.

Erdogan did not recognize legitimacy of Al-Sisi’s presidency. Despite Egypt was an important country for Turkey, Ankara lost Egypt as a partner for an indefinite period. And despite all the attempts by the Turkish authorities to improve relations with Egypt, everything has turned out to be ineffective.

Turkey and the UAE

Although at first sight the Turkey-UAE relations seem to be normal, these relations are also in state of crisis. Earlier, the UAE accused Turkey of supporting the IS terrorists in Syria and providing them with weapons in Libya.

Meanwhile, the Turkish media claim that the UAE was one of the "sponsors" of the July 15, 2016 military coup attempt. Despite Turkish and UAE foreign ministers solved this issue, there is still tension in the relations between Ankara and Abu Dhabi.

So, Turkey has problems with the mentioned countries, except for Saudi Arabia. Taking all this into account, Turkey has still no chance to mediate in the Qatar crisis.


Follow Rufiz Hafizoglu on Twitter: @rhafizoglu