Turkey: From ‘zero’ problems to zero ties

In the Arabian Gulf states, trade exchange with Turkey declined by about 65 percent

  
A Turkish flag with the Bosphorus Bridge in the background, flies on a passenger ferry in Istanbul, Turkey September 30, 2020.

A Turkish flag with the Bosphorus Bridge in the background, flies on a passenger ferry in Istanbul, Turkey September 30, 2020.

Reuters/Murad Sezer

WHEN the Ottoman Empire ended, the founder of the Turkish Republic Mustafa Kemal Ataturk pronounced for the first time the slogan “Peace at Home, Peace in the World”. Since then, the Turkish foreign policy has proceeded in this manner throughout the past decades.

In 2013, the foreign minister at the time Ahmet Davutoglu reaffirmed this through the principle of “zero problem with neighbors”, despite the fact that the appetite for regional interventions at the time was open in all directions, especially the Iranian interference in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.

However, the Muslim Brotherhood’s ogre agitated the appetite to devour the Arab countries one after the other under the diguise of the “Arab Spring.”

During that period, the GDP of Turkey had reached $784 billion, and Ankara announced its plan to achieve a trillion dollars in the year 2023, and expand its relations with various countries around the world.

Nonetheless, all these achievable hopes evaporated after the apparent change in the policy of the Justice and Development Party, and the start of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s endeavor to compensate for the failure in joining his country to the European Union, by reviving the scheme of the empire of the Ottoman children.

He interfered in the Syrian conflict,as well as in Iraq, Lebanon, and later Somalia, Yemen and Azerbaijan. He mobilized his forces on the borders with Greece, which led to a policy shift of “zero problems with neighbors” to “zero relations with the world”.

As a result, the Turkish-European trade exchange decreased in the past months by about 30 percent, and with North Africa, especially the Arab countries, down to minimum levels.

The Kingdom of Morocco recently announced the imposition of tax on 1,200 Turkish products. In the Arabian Gulf states, trade exchange with Turkey declined by about 65 percent. Then came the Saudi popular call to boycott Turkish products, which began to radically change the parameters of the economic relations between the two countries.

Because of all this, the crime rate in Turkey rose to 51.6 percent. This was due to the instability of living after the lira’s exchange rate deteriorated from 2.5 against the US dollar to 7.94. The unemployment rate rose to 13.6 percent, which meant an increase in the pressure on the ailing economy.

Naturally, this kind of situation leads to more political unrest, not to mention the absurd spending on the military in the countries where the Turkish forces and the mercenaries are operating, whether in Libya or Azerbaijan.

Faced with this situation, the genie of Turkey, which is considered as one of the most powerful economies in the world and ranked 18 among the twenty countries, found only Qatar, the smallest Gulf country, resorting to it to fill the deficit in support of its wars and conflicts. This is especially since the previous regime was under the delusion of its ability to control the important Arab countries through the terrorist “Brotherhood”, while making Doha a haven for them.

It is true that Turkey took advantage of this situation and began to use the money it obtained in those wars. However, after the change of the regime, and the arrival of Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad, Qatar turned into a country that expelled everything that could pose a threat to it, as if it is bringing the clock back to the nineteenth century when the Ottoman garrison was expelled from it. This happened at a time when Istanbul believed that it had taken control of the western coast of the Gulf region by holding it under the control of Qatar, but the Sheikh Tamim considered this a great waste of their freedom and an Ottoman plunder of their money.

Those who witnessed the expressions of Recep Tayyip Erdogan while reviewing the Qatari honor guard at the end of his visit to Doha alongside Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad, is well aware of the fact that the man returned to Ankara without nostalgia, because the money tap that was open in the previous era has closed and Qatar is currently not in the list of breaking the international consensus in liquidating terrorist outposts and reducing regional tensions. It will not be in Libya or Azerbaijan, even if its media is biased towards Turkish intervention there.

In short, it has become clear that the saying “The full moon does not diminish until it is complete” applies now to Turkey, as the very wide range of interventions makes the circle diminish slowly and slowly until it becomes in need, and not a crescent that encompasses the region as Erdogan imagines.

Ahmed Al-Jarallah is the Editor-in-Chief, the Arab Times

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