Turkish PM warns Qatar issue may turn into global problem
ANKARA / DOHA
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım has warned that the escalating crisis between Qatar and several Arab nations could become a global problem amid intensified diplomatic efforts to solve the row.
“A new problem area that may be created here [in Qatar] would not be limited to the region,” Yıldırım said late on June 10, addressing an iftar dinner with business figures at the Dolmabahçe Prime Ministry Residence in Istanbul.
“The risk of this issue becoming a global problem is very high due to the geostrategic nature of the region,” he said.
Yıldırım called on the parties involved to “act responsibly and contribute to reducing the tension rather than increasing it.”
He also said Turkey had made more efforts to ease the tension. “We are negotiating with the leaders of all the countries in the region and with our diplomatic counterparts and inviting the parties to calm down,” he added.
On June 5, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain cut diplomatic ties with Qatar, accusing Doha of supporting terrorism.
Saudi Arabia has also closed its land borders with Qatar, geographically isolating the tiny Gulf state.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan also insisted on the need to find a diplomatic solution to the problem, adding that Turkey would stand by Qatar.
“We will not abandon our Qatari brothers,” Erdogan told members of his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) at a recent iftar fast breaking meal in Istanbul.
Speaking about a list published on June 8 claiming some charity foundations backed by Qatar had terrorist links, Erdogan said: “There is no such thing. I know those foundations.”
Late on June 8, a joint statement by Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and the UAE accused 59 individuals and 12 charity organizations in Qatar of being “linked to terror,” local media reported.
The list included the International Union of Muslim Scholars’ Egyptian chairman, Yousef al-Qaradawi, and Abdullah bin Khalid, a former interior minister of Qatar.
Erdoğan said he had never witnessed Doha supporting terrorism, adding Turkey “will continue to give all kinds of support to Qatar.”
On June 7, Turkey’s parliament ratified two deals on deploying troops to Qatar and training the Gulf nation’s gendarmerie.
The row over Qatar should be resolved before the conclusion of the holy month of Ramadan toward the end of June, Erdoğan also said, according to Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu.
“President Erdoğan stressed that this tragic event – contradicting our religion, beliefs and traditions – should be resolved before the holy month of Ramadan ends, while he also emphasized his sadness over the crisis,”
Çavuşoğlu said June 10 during a joint news conference with his Bahraini counterpart, Shaikh Khalid bin Ahmed bin Mohammed al-Khalifa, in Istanbul.
Qatar is ready to listen to the concerns of Gulf Arab, Kuwait said on June 11 as it tried to mediate a solution to the worst regional crisis in years.
“[Kuwait] affirms the readiness of the brothers in Qatar to understand the reality of the qualms and concerns of their brothers and to heed the noble endeavors to enhance security and stability,” Kuwait’s state news agency KUNA quoted Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah al-Khalid al-Sabah as saying.
Kuwait, which has retained ties with Qatar and has often acted as a mediator in regional disputes, said it wanted to resolve the dispute “within the unified Gulf house.”
A previous mediation effort by Kuwait in which the Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah shuttled between Riyadh, Abu Dhabi and Doha, failed to achieve an immediate breakthrough.
“Is this the beginning of wisdom and reasonable thinking? I hope so,” UAE State Minister for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash wrote on Twitter in reaction to Kuwait saying Qatar was ready to listen to the grievances.
U.S. President Donald Trump at first offered to host Qatar and its adversaries – all U.S. allies – at the White House, but on June 9 said Qatar had been a high-level sponsor of terrorism and backed the Gulf pressure.
Saudi Arabia’s powerful Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman discussed efforts to “counter terrorism and extremism” in a telephone call with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on June 11, state news agency SPA said.
But a Qatari diplomat said the crisis reflected a lack of U.S. leadership.
“This is the biggest testimony to U.S. failure in the Gulf,” the diplomat told Reuters on condition of anonymity.
“[It] gives others the impression the U.S. does not know how to manage the relationship with its allies or is incapable [of doing so].”