Qatar’s tac­ti­cal Turkey pol­icy


QATAR’S deep­en­ing ties with Turkey could have sig­nif­i­cant con­se­quences for the Gulf Co­op­er­a­tion Coun­cil (GCC), the US and US-Gulf re­la­tions. Doha is try­ing to drive a wedge be­tween Turkey on the one hand, and GCC states and the US on the other.

Doha has eased the rules on Turkey’s ex­ports to Qatar, which are up roughly 84 per­cent. It has also al­low­ing Ankara to set up a mil­i­tary base in Qatar, Turkey’s first in the Arab world.

Qatar is a ma­jor hub for the US-led air cam­paign against Daesh in Syria and Iraq, but Doha’s poli­cies could en­dan­ger the Amer­i­can air base there.

They could also sig­nif­i­cantly un­der­mine Turkey’s na­tional in­ter­ests and dam­age its ties with other Arab states, which would fur­ther in­flame re­gional ten­sions.

While Qatar projects it­self as a staunch ally of Turkey, the for­mer’s poli­cies to­ward the lat­ter are con­tra­dic­tory when metic­u­lously ex­am­ined. For ex­am­ple, Qatar’s state-funded me­dia has re­peat­edly pro­vided a plat­form for Turk­ish op­po­si­tion groups and fig­ures such as Fethul­lah Gulen, and Al Jazeera ap­peared to praise schools funded by him.

Doha’s stance on the Kur­dis­tan Work­ers’ Party (PKK) seems to dif­fer from that of Ankara. “In its English and Ara­bic broad­casts, Al Jazeera does not call the PKK ‘ter­ror­ists’ as they are gen­er­ally ref­er­enced to in Turkey,” said news web­site World­crunch. “In­stead, Al Jazeera prefers the term ‘in­sur­gent’.”

Qatar’s deep­en­ing ties with Turkey may push Ankara to drop its back­ing for Syr­ian op­po­si­tion groups in an at­tempt to ap­pease Doha’s al­lies, specif­i­cally Iran. In that case, Qatar and Turkey would strengthen Tehran’s hand in Syria while weak­en­ing the West’s.

Qatar’s ac­tions and poli­cies could also neg­a­tively af­fect how Arabs view Turkey.

By try­ing to drive a wedge be­tween Turkey and the GCC, Doha ap­pears to be sig­nal­ing that it is not com­mit­ted to the coun­cil’s joint se­cu­rity. This will likely in­flame ten­sions and re­gional in­sta­bil­ity. Turkey needs to re­cal­i­brate its Qatar pol­icy in or­der to serve its na­tional in­ter­ests.

Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is a Har­vard­e­d­u­cated, Ira­nian-Amer­i­can po­lit­i­cal sci­en­tist. He is a lead­ing ex­pert on Iran and US for­eign pol­icy, a busi­ness­man and pres­i­dent of the In­ter­na­tional Amer­i­can Coun­cil. He serves on the boards of the Har­vard In­ter­na­tional Re­view, the Har­vard In­ter­na­tional Re­la­tions Coun­cil and the US-Mid­dle East Cham­ber for Com­merce and Busi­ness. He can be reached on Twit­ter @Dr_Rafizadeh


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