Saudi Arabia and Turkey Maintain Positive Relations Despite Qatar Crisis
Qatar is Turkey’s closest ally in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and, since 2011, Ankara has become Doha’s most important regional ally. From Syria to Libya, the Qataris and Turks have worked in tandem to pursue shared interests, chiefly via support for Islamist non-state actors. More than five months into the GCC crisis, Ankara has played a pivotal role in assisting Qatar weather the blockade imposed by a quartet of Arab countries—Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Looking ahead, Turkey’s position in the GCC’s row complicates Ankara’s standing in the Arabian Peninsula and raises important questions about the future of Turkey’s ties with Saudi Arabia.
Turkey’s reaction to the GCC crisis demonstrated that Ankara’s relationship with Doha is about more than shared ideological orientations. Turkey has established itself as a true ally of Qatar, not merely a strategic partner. Turkey did so by deploying its forces to the emirate shortly after the crisis erupted, heightening the costs of any planned military operation against Qatar, and increasing the quantities and speed of food deliveries to thwart a food security crisis in the blockaded country. Such action served to enhance Qatar’s confidence in being able to strongly resist the quartet’s pressure to capitulate.
Turkey continues to play an important role in fostering the growth of Qatar’s indigenous industries, which makes the emirate more economically self-sufficient and less reliant on imports, particularly in the food sector. On October 23, Ankara’s ambassador to Doha, Fikret Ozer, announced that as part of “Turkey’s contribution to Qatar” his country will help the emirate increase its production of locally-made products through investment and future partnerships with Qatari firms.
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