Turkish-Qatari relations fortified by on-going blockade and trade embargo

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrives in Doha today for a visit that will include meetings with state leaders. Relations

Turkey Qatar

Photo: AP

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrives in Doha today for a visit that will include meetings with state leaders.

Relations between Ankara and Doha began improving in 2011, when the Arab Spring saw both governments back Islamist groups across the region. The alliance was cemented in mid-2017 when Gulf Cooperation Council members Saudi Arabia and the UAE placed a blockade on Qatar for its support of these Islamist groups. Turkey came to Qatar’s aid during this crisis, delivering food and troops to the beleaguered country.

Economic relations have also improved; bilateral trade increased by 80% last year. A growing number of Turkish firms have been awarded construction contracts in Qatar, many displacing Saudi and UAE firms.

To further build on these ties, cooperation will be the theme of Erdogan’s visit. Leaders are expected to sign a number of agreements on defence, trade, tourism and energy today.

As long as tensions between Qatar and its neighbours continue and Doha remains dependent on Turkish assistance, the relationship is likely to remain strong. While a resolution to the crisis is unlikely to end the alliance, an improvement of bilateral relations between Doha and Riyadh may weaken Qatar and Turkey’s strategic relationship by removing the exigency that has been driving it. Nonetheless, an improvement in relations between Saudi Arabia and Qatar will only go so far, as long as the latter maintains its strong ties with Iran.