Turkey & Qatar Foul-Weather Friends!

Date: Issue 98 - April 2020

The Republic of Turkey has constantly sought out good relations with the Arab world and has paid great attention to not intervening in Arab affairs. However, this reservist attitude toward the Arab world started to change in the 1980s during which time Turkey had started to consider the Arab world as a lucrative market for Turkish made products and foreign capital under the then Prime Minister of Turgut ÖZAL’s leadership. Turkey’s relations with the Arab world gained significant momentum when the Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power in Ankara in November 2002. The AKP has viewed the Arabs as natural allies. Believing that stronger ties between Turkey and the Arab world could solve most of the problems in the region, Recep Tayyip ERDOĞAN, Turkey’s President and the Chairman of the ruling Justice and Development Party, have made tremendous efforts during last 18 years to improve and expand both economic and political relations between Turkey and the Arab world. 

During the first decade of the 2000s, as an active partner of the Arab states, Turkey developed economic, political and defense related relations with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC/an alliance of six Gulf monarchies; Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Oman that had signed a defense pact to consider an attack on one of them as an attack on all). Turkey’s institutional relations with the GCC commenced with the “Framework Agreement for Economic Cooperation between Turkey and the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (GCC)” signed on May 30, 2005 in Manama, Bahrain. Thanks to the high level of economic and political relations on September 2, 2008 Turkey became a strategic partner of the GCC with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) establishing a Strategic Dialogue Mechanism between Turkey and the GCC in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. With this MoU Turkey became the first non-Gulf state able to attain the status of GCC’s strategic partner. Trade volume between Turkey and the GCC have grown from US$$1.5 Billion in 1999 to US$16 Billion in 2014. Turkish Government has previously declared a target of US$100 Billion trade with GCC countries by 2023.