The Middle East deadlock
Turkey is facing a new crisis in the Middle East: The crisis between Qatar and four Arab states that want to oppress it. The four Arab states are Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), but they have supporters.
In this crisis, the U.S., in order not to undermine its patronage on both sides, insists to “solve it with dialogue,” by selling arms to both sides. Russia is avoiding being on a definite side.
Turkey, on the other hand, is an active side in the crisis. Was it really necessary to take a side in such a crisis?
One of the 13 conditions the four Arab states imposed on Qatar is the closure of the Turkish military base in Qatar. Look at the hostility we have been subjected to while trying to “increase the number of our friends.” Moreover, we are freshly exposed to new information that the United Arab Emirates supported the July 15, 2016, coup treachery with $1 billion.
For the military coup in Egypt, Saudi Arabia had given $5 billion; in place of the $5 billion loan the Muslim Brotherhood asked from the IMF.
U.A.E. Foreign Minister Anwar Gargash spoke to the Guardian, in which he threatened Turkey with economic interests. “We hope that Turkey prioritizes the interest of the Turkish state and not partisan ideology,” he said.
This is a sign that the crisis in the region might escalate to “Turkey’s interests.”
Ankara’s reaction was sending combatant troops to the military base in Qatar. According to columnist Abdulkadir Selvi, with this act, Ankara activated its “hard power” because it saw that the next extension of the Qatar blockade was Turkey.
The question we need to ask is this: In a dispute between the Arabs, was it necessary for us to take such a side, risking becoming the next target of an extension of the blockade after Qatar?
Of course, Qatar is a friendly country; our economic ties with it are worth $8.5 billion, but are our economic ties with other Arab countries are not important?
Turkey rightfully reacted to the toppling of the elected government of the Muslim Brotherhood by a military coup, but it did not stop there and became a distinct side. We were the only country that severed relations with Egypt. At this moment, we should also remember our “precious loneliness” in our Syrian policy.
Obviously, this policy has created hostility against Turkey in Arab countries that are under the patronage of Saudi Arabia.
According to a 2016 survey conducted by Zogby, the rate of those with a negative opinion on Turkey among the population of Egypt is 67 percent, Saudi Arabia 65 percent, the U.A.E. 59 percent and Iraq 70 percent.
Does one need to remind the declarations of the Arab League that criticized Turkey?
Ideological generalizations such as “Turks and Arabs do not like or do like each other” should be avoided.
Today, in all Arab countries, the sentiment of belonging to the country has been formed, the Zogby survey has demonstrated this. The Arabs and the Central Asian Turkic republics do not want an older brother as a guardian.
Pan-Arabism has failed because of that. Policies conducted based on “religious community or empire” perspectives are doomed to fail.
Our policy should have “national, nation-state” features and a foreign policy focused on Turkey’s security and interests with equal international relations. This calls for Turkey’s impartiality in disputes among Arabs, while developing economic and political relations with all parties.
The Qatar crisis has once again shown this principal reality.