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The Turkey-Qatar alliance and an independent future for the Middle East

23 3 9

by Abderrahmane Amor and Nazmus Sakib

On 5 June 2017, the people of Qatar woke to the news that an air, land and sea blockade had been imposed on their country by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, Bahrain and their allies. They were stunned, and in their hearts felt that they had been betrayed by their neighbours. The crisis would reveal and strengthen true alliances, not least that between Turkey and Qatar.

History notes that the first political contact between the Turks and Qataris was in 1871 when the Ottomans entered Qatar at the invitation of Sheikh Jassim Bin Mohammed Al-Thani. This resulted in a new governorate joining the Ottoman Empire; an alliance between the ruling Al-Thani family of Doha and Sultan Abdulaziz of Istanbul. That alliance had its own crisis, and like many other stories of British colonialism, culminated in succumbing to imperialist designs.

The consequent fall of the Ottomans and the creation of modern nation-states have altered the layout and politics of the Muslim-majority world drastically and in its entirety. A genuine re-evaluation of the nature of artificial colonial boundaries imposed on former governorates (vilayet in Turkish) of the Ottoman Empire has taken place. At the same time, tangible cooperation to recreate and reimagine an independent regional order free from any neo-colonial hegemony is resulting in nascent geopolitical influences. This vision was echoed on the streets as millions marched during the so-called Arab Spring.

READ: Turkey refuses to close military base in Qatar

We would argue that the Middle East today is not, as some sectarians would claim, a religious battleground between Sunnis and Shia; rather, there is a political battle for hegemony between two groups: the Arab quartet of Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, and Bahrain (and their allies), and the Turkey-Qatar axis. This is a necessary generalisation of the battle for influence in the region, and much can be said about the role that Iran and its non-state actors play. However, these two alliances........

© Middle East Monitor