Middle East expert Cahit Tuz says Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al Thani’s picking of Turkey as his first trip abroad after the crisis shows that he was trying to find out what kind of role Turkey could take in the negotiations.
Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al Thani on Thursday arrived in Ankara to meet with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in his first trip abroad after the Gulf crisis erupted.
On June 5, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain cut diplomatic ties and trade links with Qatar, with accusations of supporting terrorism based on its ties with the Muslim Brotherhood and Iran.
Few countries, including Israel, Saudi Arabia and the Egyptian government which came to power after toppling the country’s first democratically elected president, Mohammed Morsi, designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organisation.
In late July, President Erdogan paid a visit to the Gulf region in a bid to find a political solution to the crisis, also visiting Qatar.
Now the Qatari emir has picked Turkey for his first overseas trip, a week before the world leaders’ United Nations meeting in New York.
The Qatari emir and President Erdogan are expected to discuss the crisis with the Gulf states.
"Turkey's moves prevented a possible intervention"
“His picking of Turkey as his first trip abroad after the crisis shows that he was trying to find out what kind of role Turkey could take in the negotiations,” said Cahit Tuz, who is an expert in Middle East affairs, and deputy chairman of the Oriental Research Centre based in Istanbul.
Tuz said Turkey played a vital role in the crisis which could lead the process to a different level.
“The Gulf states were planning military intervention. Cutting diplomatic ties suddenly, closing international airspace and sea routes – all of which are the steps when one wants to attack a country – were signs of plans for a military intervention,” he said.
“Turkey gave a clear message that they [the Saudi-led bloc] must give up the idea of a military operation against Qatar by sending troops and military equipment.”
“Turkey’s move both prevented a possible intervention and also forced the Gulf states to compose a list of demands for Qatar to start negotiations.”
The four Gulf states asked Qatar to meet 13 demands, including closing the Turkish military base in the country, closing the Al Jazeera news network and reducing ties to their regional adversary Iran, an official of one of the four countries said.
The bloc later modified the demands and reduced it to six broad principles, excluding the closure of Al Jazeera from the list.
The question is “when will the sides agree to solve the crisis?” said Tuz, adding the Saudi-led bloc didn’t make their decision without US knowledge.
“US President Donald Trump was planning to kick off diplomatic negotiations between the Gulf states and Israel, but it was going to be impossible because of Qatar’s presence,” he said.
“The crisis has many dynamics. So I expect no solution to the crisis in the short term, but the diplomatic process will start soon,” Tuz said.
The two leaders are also expected to discuss how to boost economic ties.