Qataris have very short memories and have already forgotten Ottoman colonialism, which only ended there in 1915, and are now aligning with Turkey at the expense of Western interests, Burak Bekdil, an Ankara-based political analyst and a fellow at the Middle East Forum, said on Wednesday.
“Few Qataris who fought the Ottoman colonialists to gain their independence in 1915 and end the 44-year-long Turkish rule in the peninsula would ever have imagined that their grandchildren would become Turkey’s closest strategic allies,” Bekdil said.
In 2014, Turkey and Qatar signed a strategic security agreement that gave Ankara a military base in the Gulf state. In 2017, Turkey sent cargo ships and hundreds of planes loaded with food and essential supplies to break the blockade on Qatar imposed by Saudi Arabia and its allies.
The next year, Doha pledged $15 billion in investment in Turkish banks and financial markets when Turkey’s national currency lost 30 percent of its value against major Western currencies in the face of U.S. sanctions.
“In other words, one U.S. ally in the Middle East was financially helping another U.S. ally evade U.S. sanctions,” Bekdil said.
The alliance between Doha and Ankara has deepened further since then, with expensive gifts exchanged between leaders, increased defence industry cooperation, and on May 20 the Turkish Central Bank announced that it had tripled its currency swap agreement with Qatar, meaning Ankara had secured much-needed foreign currency funding.
This helped the Turkish economy as it was struggling from the fallout of the COVID-19 coronavirus but also as it is poised to deteriorate further due to potential U.S. sanctions over Ankara’s purchasing of the Russian-made S-400 defence missile systems in the face of NATO protestations and over charges against Turkey’s state-run Halkbank for evading U.S. sanctions on Iran.
“Once again, U.S. ally Qatar has rushed to offer financial aid to U.S. ally Turkey to help it withstand U.S. sanctions,” Bekdil said. “Just as it did in 2018, Qatar has at least partially thwarted U.S. sanctions”.