Qatar-Turkey friendship has strong historical foundations
26 Sep 2017 - 15:25
In the past few days, Qatar’s Emir H H Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani made a surprise visit to Turkey. The Emir made his first overseas visit to Turkey after the Gulf Crisis and had a closed-door meeting with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for 2.5 hours in Beştepe.
In the meeting, which was mainly about the latest situation in the current crisis, the regional and international developments and subsequent steps to be taken were discussed. The focus was on the necessity of finding solutions through diplomatic channels. The bilateral relations between Turkey and Qatar and possible improvements for cooperation in commercial, industrial and military fields were discussed. It is also stated that the latest situation in Syria and Arakan was assessed in the meeting.
In the following days, the visit began to bear fruit for both countries. A 3-year LNG (liquefied natural gas) trade agreement was signed between Turkey’s pipeline oil transportation company Botaş and Qatargas of Qatar. According to the agreement, Qatargas will transfer 1.5 million tons of LNG from Qatar to Turkey every year for 3 years. Qatargas Chief Executive Officer Khalid Bin Khalifa Al-Thani also stated that they desire the aforementioned commercial cooperation to last for many years.
As a matter of fact, the commercial relations between Turkey and Qatar are steadily gaining momentum especially since the early 2000s. Qatar has made many big investments and secured important partnerships in Turkey in recent years.
Since 2015, the shares of many major and critical Turkish companies have been purchased by Qatari businessmen. With worldwide investment volume of 335 billion dollars, Qatar invested approximately 18 billion dollars in Turkey. In 2016, Turkey exported 421 million dollars to Qatar while imports from Qatar amounted to 271 million dollars. The goal is to double this 700 million dollar trade volume. According to the International Investors Association’s (YASED) 2016 report, Qatar ranks 7th among the countries with the highest investments in Turkey.
Likewise, Turkey is mainly active in the construction sector in Qatar. Stating that Qatar has a significant market potential for Turkish construction firms, Contractors’ Union Chairman Mithat Yenigün continued to note that in first quarter of 2017, Turkish companies undertook 128 projects totaling 14.2 billion dollars in Qatar.
Many major infrastructure, transport and structure constructions, including the Doha subway, are among these projects. In addition to this, it is expected that Turkish companies will undertake important projects within the scope of 170 billion dollar worth of investments for infra/superstructure construction jobs for the 2022 World Cup which Qatar will host.
However, there is more to the Turkey-Qatar relations than the mutual and positive developments of the recent period. Qatar-Turkey relations is actually far from being just commercial and economic but goes a long way back and is based on a long-established friendship.
As it is known, Qatar was the last country to leave the Ottoman Empire in 1914. However, Qatar was always targeted by the threats and attacks of surrounding states and tribes. In the face of such an attack, the great-grandfather of the current Qatar Emir H H Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani requested help from the Ottoman Empire upon which the Ottomans sent four Turkish flags to Qatar.
After these four flags were planted at four different points in Qatar, the pressure and attacks came to an end during that period. (“The Ottoman Gulf: The Creation of Kuwait, Saudia Arabia, and Qatar”, Frederick F. Anscombe, Columbia University Press, October 1, 1997)
Hence, today’s Turkish-Qatari relations are based on such historical friendship, brotherhood and solidarity. As a matter of fact, it is not possible to forget the support and cooperation provided by Qatar as a demonstration of this spirit of brotherhood after the coup attempt on July 15 in Turkey. Qatar’s Emir has shown to the whole world that Qatar is a true friend of the Turkish people by announcing their support for Turkish government immediately after this treacherous coup attempt.
Moreover, according to a report by Middle East Monitor, after the coup attempt, Qatar sent 150 members of their Special Forces to Turkey for the protection of President Erdogan. The Turkish Embassy in Qatar explained that “this cooperation has strengthened the relations between the two countries”.
As expected, Turkey also took immediate action following the Gulf states’ embargo and sanctions on Qatar. Since the beginning of the crisis, Turkey mobilised aid for food, textile and any other urgent needs of the country. Currently, Turkey is doing its best to ensure that Qatar’s stocks of food and other consumption supplies are not lacking. Turkey coming to Qatar’s aid in less than 24 hours was extensively covered by the foreign media.
Citizens on the other hand shared the photos of Turkish products in market shelves with the message “Greetings Ottomans” in social media: An account named Khalid_AlSuliti shared photos of Turkish products in supermarkets, saying “Within 24 hours of our neighbours’ blockade, Turkish products arrived at our market shelves”. Sarah AlMuhanadi shared the message; “I always knew that Turkey was a friend of Qatar. But I did not expect so much love and solidarity from the Turkish people. Thank you Turkey.” Television host Usame Caviş tweeted; “Things seem to have simmered down with the inclusion of Turkey. May God protect the people of Qatar“.
Turkey continues to make calls for dialog and reconciliation, as it has been from the very beginning, to end this meaningless crisis in the Gulf. It offers full support to Qatar by utilising all kinds of diplomatic contacts.
As you can see, the events that at first seemed malignant led to two old friends reconnecting and uniting their forces while strengthening their ties of friendship and brotherhood. From now on, these two important countries will continue to cooperate and work under the roof of friendship and brotherhood for the peace and comfort of the region. It is our greatest wish that this beautiful spirit of love, unity and brotherhood set an example for all Muslims and envelop the entire Islamic world as soon as possible.
The writer has authored some 300 books in 73 languages on political, faith-related and scientific issues which have been read by millions of people, exerting considerable influence on both Muslims and non-Muslims all over the world.