True alliances begin with friendship

 21 Aug 2017 - 18:26

For 15 years since the US invasion of Iraq, the Middle East has only been remembered for conflicts, civil wars, massacres and terrorism. Nearly three million Muslims have lost their lives during this bloody period; 20 million Muslims were forced to flee from their home and their countries. 1,500 year-old Muslim cities — Damascus, Aleppo, Baghdad, Mosul, Sana, Basra — were all left in ruins. Even these heavy losses are still not enough for some. There is neither a goal nor an initiative nor a solution plan to reestablish stability in these regions and innocent Muslims continue to lose their lives every passing day.

In this climate of conflict, the Qatar-Turkey alliance gives hope to the people of the region. By means of its strategic partnership with Russia, Turkey has managed to establish a de-conflict zone in a large part of Syria. Iran’s support also played a big role in this success. Together with Russia, the most important Sunni and Shia states of the region were — to some extent — successful at slowing down the civil war in Syria. After Qatar, which has supported this initiative since its inception, became a strategic partner of this alliance over time, a new power center has emerged in the region.    

The alliance passed its first test right before Eid Al Fitr. During the political and economic blockade against Qatar, Turkey extended a hand to Qatar within hours. 220 cargo planes carried daily consumer goods from Turkey to Qatar in one week. Turkish fruits and vegetables, milk and poultry products kept the market shelves full.

Iran, on the other hand, kept the sea route open for Qatar, which was being blockaded from both land and air. During the period in which the crisis intensified, Turkey took a step further and openly showed its military support; the Turkish troops in Qatar were reinforced. The two countries carried out joint military exercises. The isolation of Qatar was prevented. Many political analysts expressed that this friendly atmosphere prevented the crisis from deepening.
At this stage, Turkey was in close contact with the other side of the crisis, the Saudi Arabian coalition, to act as a mediator to overcome the blockade and solve the problem.

In fact, these are the last stages of a strategic alliance that has visibly developed between Turkey and Qatar in the last 10 years. Qatar has become one of the biggest natural gas suppliers of Turkey during this period. Qatar-based investment funds have also made major investments in many sectors, from banking, to media, to real estate; 2016 was the peak of economic cooperation between the two countries.

Qatari companies invested 400 million dollars in Turkey. This number made Qatar the seventh country to make the most investments in Turkey. The Turkish Wealth Fund, which manages some $40 billion in assets, has, for the second time, established a common fund with Qatar after Russia. The total sum of contracts signed by Turkish contractors in Qatar reached $14 billion dollars. In 2016, exports from Turkey to Qatar amounted to $421 million while imports from Qatar amounted to $271 million.

Qatar is receiving 90% of its food through imports due to the limited availability of arable land. Therefore, the food embargo could have had serious effects on Qatar. However, Turkey reacted swiftly and became a solution partner in this matter.

With the memorandum of understanding signed between the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock of Turkey and the Ministry of Municipality and Environment of Qatar, projects for cooperation in the fields of agriculture, herbal production and plant health, animal husbandry and animal breeding, animal health, fishery and food healthcare have begun to materialise.

The climate of political and economic cooperation brought the two communities closer. In 2016, 40,000 Qatari tourists visited Turkey. This figure reached 15,000 in the first four months of 2017. Touristic visits between the two countries have now reached a stage where a common culture can be formed. Arab and Turkish influences have begun to appear in both countries.

In many cities in Turkey, various places have been opened to ensure that Qatari tourists can feel  at home; similarly, it is possible to see Turkish textile, clothing, and jewelry stores  in Qatar’s streets. Turkish film stars are better known than Hollywood stars in Qatar. This social communication is bringing the people of both countries closer day by day.

The statesmen of both countries are committed to this cooperation. Both President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Qatar’s Emir H H Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani have a sincere approach to this issue.  Erdogan visited Qatar and Saudi Arabia right in the middle of the crisis and made it clear that Turkey is determined to overcome the problems between friendly countries.

Such good news should be considered as a new hope for the Middle East and peace must come urgently to the Middle East. The only way to do this is for Muslims to leave behind the disputes between them and become allies. The whole region is on the brink of a total war. The Mediterranean has become a sea of war and the Persian Gulf is most likely next in line.

The only power to stop this plan of destruction, shaped by dark circles, can only be attained if the Muslim world acts hand in hand. Qatar and Turkey have taken the first steps in this regard by displaying  good courage. These sincere friendships and alliances will protect the world from a war that will only serve to cause mass destruction.  

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.