A message to the wise
While we do not wish to bring any harm to our Qatari brothers, Turkey has appointed itself a major player in the region and poured fuel on the fire. It is obvious that what Ankara has in mind is not peaceful mediation. It looks like nostalgia for the days of the Ottoman Empire has taken hold of the Turkish leadership.
The world had expected the Sublime Porte to calm the situation in the Gulf. Ankara, however, chose to stab Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt in the back. Turkish officials met in Turkey with the leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood and agreed on three things: Back the emir of Qatar, continue Turkish support for the Brotherhood and censure the demands levied against Qatar as “illegal in international law.”
It would have been best for Turkey to mind its own internal and external affairs instead of starting dubious relations. Perhaps a quick rundown of the problems facing Turkey would be useful.
Turkey is suspended from joining the European Union and it doesn’t look like the suspension will be lifted soon. The Turkish sultan will just have to bear it and grin. That pesky Abdullah Ocalan and his Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK) are giving the Turkish leadership terrible headaches. Turkey has occupied some Iraqi land and failed to secure its borders with Syria.
These unfortunate situations are not going to end soon and will make heavy demands on Turkey’s military budget. By sending weapons and money to Libya, Turkey is taking part in transforming that country into a heap of ruins. By cooperating with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Turkey has an implicit hand in killing Egyptian civilians. Turkey has given refuge to this terrorist organisation and provided it with television stations and intelligence offices in Istanbul.
The economic situation in Qatar is very uncertain. Consumer prices rocketed. Projects are halted. Foreign investments have left the country and foreign workers are fleeing by the hundreds. The stench of the World Cup 2022 scandal has filled the air and it is time to move the tournament from Qatar. Qatari travellers in Europe and the United States cannot sell their deteriorating riyals and international rating agencies downgraded Qatar’s sovereign credit to “negative watch.”
It is a mystery how Qatar still has faith in Turkey. The latter has jumped on every cause that has come along, blown them each out of proportion and, in the end, done nothing about them. Examples abound: The war in Syria; incidents at Rabaa in Egypt, Gaza, Hama and Tal Afar, illegal migration to Europe, the Kurdish question and many more.
On December 25, 2001, the Ottoman sultan signed a security cooperation agreement with Qatar. So when Turkey sends more than 1,000 soldiers and supply planes to Qatar to celebrate the anniversary of that agreement, it becomes difficult to argue it is a neutral and unbiased intermediary in the current crisis. This tasteless comedy reminds us of the similarly ridiculous comedy of the Iranians sending supplies to the Houthis in Yemen.
When Qatar accepts to suffer further humiliation by inviting a foreign country to establish a military base on its soil, we can no longer speak of political grit but rather of a failed political manoeuvre.
Turkey has seduced Doha into playing with the cards of the Muslim Brothers, terrorism and dirty money; of supporting Azmi Bishara and his cells and of propagating crass mass media. The price tag was $65 billion in addition to Qatar’s foreign debts, which total $172 billion. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan can hardly contain his hunger for Qatari gas, so he quickly condemns the conditions imposed by the Gulf states and Egypt. Qatar is a beautiful bride and we hope it will be spared the Ottoman sultan’s greed.
Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir reiterated that the Gulf countries and Egypt were adamant about their list of demands. One of them concerns the immediate closing of the Turkish base in Qatar, which of course irked the Ottoman caliph out of his wits. Looking sternly into TV cameras, the sultan’s chief adviser, Yigit Bulut, heralded the imminent coming of the “Arab spring” to Saudi Arabia. You can’t be more insolent than that but I believe that the Ottoman caliph is smarter than to start a direct confrontation with Saudi Arabia.
Once again, we in Saudi Arabia do not wish to bring any harm to our Qatari brothers but, at the same time, we will not stand by idle as foreign powers — Turkey or any other country — try to sneak in to shake the security and economic conditions in the Arabian Gulf and by the same process harm the Qatari people. A message to the wise!