Turkey in Quandary Over Arab Crisis

Turkey in Quandary Over Arab CrisisTurkey in Quandary Over Arab Crisis

Lawmakers said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's renewed efforts to mediate in the Arab rift did not bring about any result, noting that Ankara's steps reveal it does not have a clear policy, nor is it in a position to bridge the gaps between the two sides.

Erdogan wrapped up a tour of Arab countries involved in a dispute on Monday, but failed to gain any tangible results.

In a recent talk with ICANA, lawmaker Mohammad Javad Abtahi blamed Erdogan's contradictory messages, saying, "On the one hand, Turkey dispatches forces to Doha, and on the other, they want to keep their business with Riyadh as well."

Abtahi stressed that Ankara wanted to keep away from the tension between Persian Gulf Arab states appropriately, but Turkey's measures [taken in the past] do not allow it to do so.

On June 5, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt cut diplomatic ties with Qatar and blocked their transit routes to the country. They have accused Doha of "supporting terrorism"—a charge facing the blockading countries themselves.

Qatar has denied the accusation, with his emir saying his country has been targeted by a "preplanned smear campaign".

The quartet later presented Doha with a 13-point list of drastic demands, later rejected by Qatar, among which was the closure of a Turkish military base and reducing ties with Iran.

Since its inception, Turkey sided with Qatar in the dispute, saying the demands were "inhumane and tantamount to capital punishment". Ankara also supplied food and other products to Doha and, much to the quartet's displeasure, increased its soldiers stationed in the tiny emirate.

Lawmaker Jalil Rahimi said Turkey wants to play the role of a leading country in the Muslim world and the Middle East, but the issue has turned into a strategic chasm between Ankara and Riyadh.

"Turkey feels it must take side with either Muslim Brotherhood-aligned forces [supported by Qatar] or Salafist forces [supported by Saudi Arabia]. However, of course, they cannot have it both ways," he said.  Qatar and Turkey have supported Egypt-based Muslim Brotherhood organization in the past, while autocratic Saudi and Emirati rulers have shunned the group, asking Doha to stop financing it as one of their conditions for lifting the blockade.

Salafists, also sometimes called Wahhabists, are extremists supported by Saudi Arabia who seek to impose their harsh interpretation of Islam on other Muslims, regarding those not following their path as heretics punishable by death.

  Turkey in Saudi Sight

Lawmakers also warned Turkey against the backlash of recent events, predicating another coup d'état might be brewing around the corner. Abtahi said, "The disagreements in Turkey have reached a new high. It is very likely that Al Saud is planning a new putsch against Erdogan where he may find himself in the same destiny as [former democratically-elected Egyptian President Mohammad] Morsi."

Morsi, a Muslim Brotherhood member, was toppled through a military coup d'état in 2013. Turkey blasted the move at the time. Lawmaker Salman Khodadadi said, "Saudi Arabia has publicly targeted Turkey in its dispute with Qatar. It is not far-fetched, if the Saudi-led bloc turns its [revengeful] sight toward Turkey in the near future."

UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash expressed the Saudi-led side's unhappiness with Ankara on Monday when he said Erdogan's regional tour was useless.  

"The Turkish president's visit did not carry anything new and the hasty stand his country had taken made neutrality as the best option for Ankara," Gargash wrote on his Twitter account on Tuesday.



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