Turkish-Qatari alliance in ‘precious loneliness’ league

Turkish-Qatari alliance in ‘precious loneliness’ league

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is seemingly very busy in reversing Turkey’s democratic achievements through a set of legal and administrative moves. These include abolishing the rule of law and the separation of powers, restricting the use of the Internet, increasing government control of the judiciary, exerting efforts to end free media, banning Facebook and YouTube, profiling dissident civil servants, academics and journalists, and thus turning the regime into an authoritarian, one-man and one-party system. 

However, leaving internal political developments aside for today, let’s tackle recent developments in foreign policy, especially with regard to the Middle East and Turkey’s ties with Gulf countries.

A very important development took place this week, with three major Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries - Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates - withdrawing their ambassadors from Qatar because of Doha’s continued interference in the GCC countries’ internal affairs. However, one of the main reasons for degrading the level of relations with Qatar is Doha’s aggressive policies with regard to Syria and its continued support for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.

Saudi Arabia is extremely disturbed by Qatar’s strong support for al-Qaeda affiliated groups in Syria, which has caused a visible split between the two countries on issues concerning the Syrian problem. It’s no surprise that Saudi Arabia has announced that it designated the Muslim Brotherhood, the al-Nusra Front and the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) as “terrorist organizations” on March 7.

The international community knows that Qatar and Turkey represent a different alliance within the international community tasked to solve the Syrian problem. Qatar is the main sponsor of combatting the Syrian opposition, along with al-Qaeda affiliated groups, while Turkey is seen as the main logistical resource country for these groups, and the location from where they have been infiltrating into Syria.

Although the Turkish government has taken some actions aimed at changing this perception, not much has changed in the field according to international observers.

The Turkish-Qatari alliance also showed its reflection before and during the Geneva II Conference. It has been accused of making a breakthrough more difficult at the conference by insisting that Bashar al-Assad must go before the two parties can agree on a political solution. This is why Turkey has been sidelined from the Syrian equation by its Western allies and Qatar by its GCC allies.

But at least one good thing for Turkey is that it now has a companion in the league of countries enjoying “precious loneliness.” But Qatar has to do more to deserve this prestigious seat: It has to ban YouTube and Facebook and quit the GCC to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, along with its best friend.