Published On: Mon, Jun 5th, 2017

Another test for Turkish diplomacy: Six Arab countries cut diplomatic ties with Qatar

The decision made by six Arab countries under Saudi Arabia‘s leadership to cut diplomatic relations with Qatar imposes another threat to peace in the Middle East region. Why has such an unexpected situation happened all of a sudden and what does “the Qatar crisis” mean?

The escalating crisis between Qatar and six countries in the Gulf of Basra came to an end with a very tough decision; Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Yemen and Libya decided to stop diplomatic relations with Qatar simply meaning Qatar was isolated and blocked in the region. This measure could and should only be interpreted as a suppressive and aggressive step to achieve quick solid results.

The Gulf Five did not only withdraw their own ambassadors but also allowed Qatar diplomats 48 hours to leave the country, asking Qatar citizens to return to their countries within 14 days at the same time. On the other hand, Qatar was kicked out of the international coalition, fighting against Husil in Yemen. Moreover said countries closed their airfields, land waters and ports to Qatar thus isolating Qatar which is a peninsula extending from Saudi Arabia to the Persian Gulf, completely as the land connection with the mainland was also closed and the connection with the outside world was cut off.

The question is “why has this blockade come to the world agenda all of a sudden?”

We need to start the answer with the fact that the USA has made a very sharp  in its policy  towards Iran after Trump’s arrival at the office. We all remember how Trump clarified this policy in this direction and made Saudi Arabia the center of the Iranian encirclement during his visit to Saudi Arabia last month. One could easily see that “the hundred billion-dollar arms deal with Riyadh” is a reflection of this.

On the other hand it is a fact that the Qatar government has been in favor of establishing more balanced relations with Iran for a while now. The important point here is, Qatar, which possesses a quantity of 15 billion natural gas reserve, is considered to own a potential to affect the Gulf balances when it moves together with Iran because of its geopolitical position. This obviously is a nightmare for Saudi Arabia which has tried to force Qatar into an anti-Iran coalition, or to withdraw its influence by isolating it if it fails to do so.

Another but even more important factor has been “the threat of of other Muslim Brotherhood and other movements of the Gulf countries.” Experts say Qatar has been giving political and financial support to the Muslim Brotherhood for quite a while now. The claim is that Qatar-based major Arab broadcasting organizations are seen to support these organizations and this in return affects the Arab world and Arab politics. In this regard, Saudi Arabia in specific has been very concerned of a wave of revolts similar to that in Egypt a while ago as the regime would be in serious danger if this happened at all. Consequently Qatar is expected to stop providing any more such support

To make things even worse, Qatar has also been a target because the leaders of organizations such as Muslim Brotherhood are allowed to live in Qatar territory and continue their activities. In fact, The Egyptian Foreign Ministry has accused Qatar of “spreading the idea of ​​al-Qaeda and DEAŞ, supporting the terrorist organizations on the Sinai Peninsula and interfering with the internal affairs of other Arab countries”. Just to remind, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates had cut diplomatic ties in 2014 accusing Qatar of involvement in internal affairs.

Eventually it is a known fact that Qatar is an important country for Britain and the United States, to maintain control the flow of Middle Eastern oil as well as for the Gulf countries. Great Britain and the USA use an airbase in this country and would not be pleased about a new such conflict in the region. In fact the USA would like to use this opportunity to have a better say on Qatar which is badly isolated at the time being.

As for Turkey, the picture seems to be even more complicate as it stands now because Qatar is one of Turkey’s important allies in the region meaning the two countries that cooperate in economic, financial and energy issues. Moreover both countries often share and support same policies regarding Syria and the region. On the other hand however

Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries are also very important for Turkey, which has been experiencing serious problems in relations with the West. Now, in a crisis between these two sides, Turkey will need to maintain relations with a fine diplomacy avoiding to offend them.

Turkey could have to live through the worst scenario if sides forced Turkey to make a choice, which would mean another nightmare in foreign diplomacy.

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