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Turkey and the Gulf states 

January 9, 2021 at 2:25 pm

People wave Turkish flags in Izmir, Turkey on 17 March 2019 [Evren Atalay/Anadolu Agency]

The joy of reconciliation and resuming cooperation among the Gulf states was not limited to the peoples, but also extended to the countries of the region. The Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs published a statement in this regard, conveying: “We welcome the demonstration of a common will to resolve the Gulf conflict, and the announcement of the return of diplomatic relations with Qatar, which was announced at the end of the forty-first session of the Gulf Cooperation Council, in Al-Ula in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”

The statement expressed Turkey’s hope that: “The Al-Ula declaration signed at the end of the summit between the Gulf Cooperation Council states and Egypt will lead to a final solution to the conflict.” It added: “As we have emphasised on several occasions, Turkey attaches great importance to the unity and solidarity of the Gulf Cooperation Council. In conjunction with restoring confidence among the Gulf states, we announce our readiness to make efforts to enhance our institutional cooperation, with the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council, of which Turkey is a strategic partner.”

There is no doubt that this step taken by countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council, in light of the great changes and the many problems globally, may contribute to the revival of the council. It is a courageous step and deserves appreciation towards this bloc, which was frozen since 2017, and has faced the risk of division due to differences. There is no denying the truth about efforts made by Kuwait to ensure the unity of the Gulf states, and to prevent the rift that has been increasing for three years. As for Qatar, which has been subjected to a very harsh blockade for three years, its patience and wisdom in dealing with this situation is a respectable position. This wisdom was explicitly demonstrated in the speech of the Emir of the country, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani, in which he expressed: “Sensing the historical responsibility at this defining moment in the path of the Cooperation Council, and in fulfilment of the hopes of our peoples, I participated alongside our brothers in the Al-Ula summit to heal the rift, and we are all hopes for a better future for the region.”

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The Gulf agreement is not the first in the world. There are similar agreements that we have recently seen, because all countries have been grappling with many problems and challenges, such as the coronavirus pandemic, drought, economic crises and the lack of food and water, driving countries to limit political crises and search for solutions. In this context, Turkey is working on reviewing its relations with countries with which tensions and problems have occurred in the past period. In fact, Turkey is keen not to immediately sever relations with other countries as a result of disputes, unless the other side breaks them off, and even if it cuts them politically at times, it supports the continuation of relations on the economic side. For example, the occupation of Crimea did not lead to a break in diplomatic relations with Russia, nor did Turkey sever its relations with other countries such as Greece and France, even when faced with the gravest conflicts and crises.

Countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council must learn a great lesson from the crisis the region has lived for the past three years, and take the most serious measures to prevent them from reoccurring between brotherly countries in the future. Everyone realised the size of damage caused by the Gulf crisis to members of the Gulf Cooperation Council and the region. The only two winners from that are, without a doubt, the US and Israel. Everyone needs to be vigilant and cautious so that similar crises do not later erupt. Turkey has always attached great importance to its relations with the Gulf states. There were two important reasons behind the increase in the interest in the Gulf to the Turkish side: the first being the Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979, and the second is related to the outbreak of the Iran-Iraq war in 1980, which lasted eight years. In the midst of these developments, specifically in 1981, the Gulf Cooperation Council was established. Turkey’s relations with the Gulf began during this period as well, but it was of limited scope. As for the stage of establishing strong alliances, which led to the signing of major agreements in all fields with the Gulf, it began with the beginning of the third millennium.

READ: Israel is keeping its eye on Gulf reconciliation efforts

We hope that the winds of peace that have returned to the Gulf will blow over all the peoples of the region. There must be a common approach to produce concrete solutions regarding what is happening in Yemen, Libya, Syria and Palestine. Everyone knows that if political crises continue without a solution, the problems that await the world in the coming years will turn the region into a ring of fire. Turkey and the Gulf states must also take urgent steps on many issues to consolidate peace and stability in the region. Otherwise, any delay will affect everyone without exception.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.