Turkey befriends Qatar. Or is it vice versa?
Qui bono of these two states’ rapprochement?
Shortly after the beginning of the Gulf crisis between Saudi-Arabia and Qatar the lines were drawn. The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) members quickly took the sides of the Saudi Kingdom and cut ties with the tiny and (so they thought) isolated monarchy.
Unexpectedly and unpredictably, other nations decided to fill the gap and forged a new alliance. Iran sent food shipments and Turkey’s parliament quickly ratified the decision to open a military base in Qatar. The lines are drawn and the Saudi deadline has now passed.
Turkey’s surprising entry into the Arab quagmire may be very good for Qatar. A new military base inside the monarchy and the assurances last week from the US to keep its base, makes military action against Emir al-Thanis’ rule almost impossible.
Qatar was the first country to congratulate Erdogan after the failed coup in 2016, but few thought that Turkey would be willing to take Qatar’s side when the stakes are as high as they are today.
It remains to be seen whether the isolation will push Qatar to the edge. Its vast oil reserves will remain, but shall become more difficult to export. Food supplies have thus far been coming through the Saudi border. The country’s powerful Emirates airways must take a big detour. Economic recession is inevitable.
Are Turkey and Iran capable of substituting all resources, which have thusfar been coming through the Saudi route? How far are they willing to go politically?
Who will back down first? The GCC or the unexpected new alliance?
In any event, Turkey, having failed in Egypt and in Syria, has not said its last word yet.