Does Erdogan’s Gulf tour signify a new era of peace in the Middle East?

Does Erdogan’s Gulf tour signify a new era of peace in the Middle East?

 Does Erdogan’s Gulf tour signify a new era of peace in the Middle East?

Erdogan’s trip to Saudi Arabia

Erdogan commenced his Gulf tour with a visit to Saudi Arabia, who after years of troubled relations have been gradually repairing ties.

On Monday, President Erdogan of Turkey arrived in Saudi Arabia, accompanied by around 200 businesspeople, as part of a three-stop tour of the region, as reported by the Foreign Economic Relations Board of Turkey.

During their meeting, both countries signed numerous memorandums of understanding (MoUs) in various sectors, including energy, direct investments, and defense industries. Among the significant agreements was Saudi Arabia’s decision to purchase Turkish drones, which marked one of the lucrative contracts secured by President Erdogan for Turkey’s struggling economy. This move came as Ankara made efforts to repair ties with Gulf Arab powers, and the drones deal was formally signed between Turkish defense firm Baykar and the Saudi defense ministry, according to Saudi state news agency SPA.

Prince Khalid bin Salman Al Saud, the Saudi Defence Minister, expressed that the acquisition of the drones was aimed at enhancing the readiness and capabilities of the kingdom’s armed forces.

Erdogan’s visit to Saudi Arabia took place amidst economic challenges in Turkey, with citizens facing sales and fuel tax hikes to restore fiscal discipline and lower inflation. Despite the recent decline in inflation from its peak in October, Turkey’s current account deficit hit record levels this year, amounting to $37.7 billion in the first five months. President Erdogan hopes that the oil and gas-rich Gulf states will play a role in helping to address this financial gap.

However, the Turkish lira faced further strain, reaching a record low of 26.6 against the dollar, raising concerns among investors ahead of the central bank’s upcoming policy-setting meeting, where a rate hike is anticipated.

Recent years had seen strained relations between Turkey and Saudi Arabia, as well as the United Arab Emirates (UAE), due to various political and regional issues. These tensions arose after the Arab Spring in 2011 and Turkey’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood, which was perceived as a threat by some Gulf monarchies. Additionally, the boycott of Qatar by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, and Bahrain in 2017 further complicated the situation.

The murder of Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018 added to the strain in relations. US intelligence agencies concluded that the killing was ordered by Prince Mohammed bin Salman, though the kingdom denied these allegations.

In recent times, Turkey has made efforts to mend relations with Saudi Arabia and the UAE, leading to significant financial support from Qatar and the UAE through currency swap agreements, along with a deposit of $5 billion by Saudi Arabia into Turkey’s central bank in March.

Qatar visit

Erdogan then visited Qatar, Turkey’s strongest ally in the region and arguably overall in recent years, along with Azerbaijan.

Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani warmly welcomed Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at Lusail Palace on Tuesday, where they engaged in official talks to strengthen the ties between Qatar and Turkey. During the visit, both leaders witnessed the signing of a joint statement commemorating the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two nations.

As a gesture of goodwill, President Erdogan presented Emir Al-Thani with a Turkish-made electric car, showcasing the strong bond and cooperation between the countries.

The relationship between Qatar and Turkey has evolved significantly since formal ties were established in 1972, especially after Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AK Party) came to power in 2002. Over the past two decades, the countries have developed closer relations across various sectors, including economic, security, military, and political fields.

Qatar’s Ambassador in Ankara, Sheikh Mohammed bin Nasser bin Jassim Al Thani, expressed enthusiasm about President Erdogan’s visit, emphasizing its importance in enhancing bilateral ties and cooperation. The visit’s agenda covered international and regional issues, as well as ways to expand investments between the two nations. The diplomat highlighted the joint efforts to overcome obstacles and foster successful collaboration.

Qatar and Turkey have found common ground in numerous areas of joint cooperation, with mutual support shown during significant events like the World Cup tournament and assistance provided by Qatar during Turkey’s earthquake catastrophe.

Investment has been a pivotal aspect of their relationship, with Turkey being an attractive destination for Qatari investors due to its strategic location, advanced industry, technology, solid infrastructure, and services. This has resulted in significant bilateral trade volume and investment between the two nations.

Military cooperation is another key aspect of their relationship. In 2014, they established a high-level committee to enhance collaboration in the military field, and a military cooperation deal was already signed in 2007. Qatar has authorized a Turkish military presence in the country, leading to joint military exercises and the establishment of the Türkiye-Qatar Combined Joint Force Command.

The strong ties between Qatar and Turkey have also translated into an increase in tourism, with a substantial rise in the number of Qatari tourists visiting Turkey in recent years.

Overall, the relationship between Qatar and Turkey continues to grow and deepen, encompassing various spheres of cooperation and mutual benefit.

Historic visit to the UAE

To conclude the visit, and in what could be considered the most significant visit of the 3, Erdogan visited the UAE. Ties between Turkiye and the UAE have advanced the most in a concrete manner in recent months, as both countries have made steps to repair and strengthen ties. The latest visit signified a historic economic deal, and a geopolitical milestone as relations reach the level of strategic partnership.

During Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s visit to Abu Dhabi, he met with UAE leader Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan at Qasr Al Watan, the UAE’s presidential palace. The two leaders co-chaired a meeting between their respective delegations and expressed their commitment to strengthening bilateral relations.

President Erdoğan expressed gratitude for the warm hospitality he and his delegation received in the UAE and emphasized the importance of the agreements signed during the visit. He believed that these agreements would elevate the relationship between Turkey and Abu Dhabi to the level of strategic partnership. Both leaders expressed their desire to enhance cultural ties, with President Erdoğan hoping to inaugurate the Turkish Cultural Center in Abu Dhabi later in the year.

As a symbol of appreciation for the visit, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan presented President Erdoğan with the Order of Zayed. In response, President Erdoğan gifted Turkey’s new electric car, Togg, to his counterpart following the meetings.

The visit resulted in the signing of 13 agreements worth $50.7 billion between Turkey and the United Arab Emirates. As part of the agreements, a High-Level Strategic Council will be established, to be chaired by the presidents of both countries. These developments signify that Turkey’s relations with the UAE have been elevated to the level of strategic partnership.

The agreements cover various fields, including energy, transportation, infrastructure, logistics, e-commerce, finance, health, food, tourism, real estate, construction, defense industry, artificial intelligence, and advanced technologies. The total value of the signed agreements amounts to $50.7 billion.

In light of these agreements, Turkey’s treasury and finance minister, Mehmet Şimşek, expressed his gratitude for the UAE’s continued strong support and confidence in Turkey’s program. The deals further strengthen ties between the two countries and promote mutual cooperation and economic growth.

Overall, the visit was seen as a significant step in solidifying and expanding the relationship between Turkey and the UAE, opening up opportunities for increased collaboration in various sectors and areas of mutual interest.

Turkey’s recent deals with the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar mark a new era of peace and cooperation in the Middle East. These agreements signify a significant shift from previous years of strained relations and regional tensions. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s diplomatic efforts have been instrumental in repairing ties and fostering a spirit of collaboration in the region.

By setting aside past differences and focusing on areas of mutual interest, these agreements demonstrate a willingness to promote stability and prosperity in the Middle East. The cooperation in defense industries and joint military exercises also signals a collective effort to enhance regional security and combat common challenges.

Overall, Turkey’s recent agreements with the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar signify a significant step towards fostering peace, stability, and economic development in the Middle East. These diplomatic efforts hold the promise of building a more interconnected and prosperous region, grounded in cooperation and shared interests.

Hazem Zahab

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