​Turkey-Gulf re-engagement: Both stand to benefit but it won’t be easy

GULF COUNTRIES - Report 08 Apr 2021 by Justin Alexander

This report was co-written by GlobalSource Partners GCC Country Analyst Justin Alexander and GlobalSource Partners Turkey Political Analyst Atilla Yesilada.

* Amid its latest crisis, Turkey could benefit from financing, trade and tourism from the Gulf, particularly if it can patch up relations with the UAE and Saudi Arabia.
* For the Gulf, Turkey’s recent military assertiveness, along with its NATO membership, make it a potentially valuable ally in a dangerous and increasingly multipolar region.
* Relations with Qatar are very strong, and it has become a vital source of financing in recent years through a swap line and FDI. It might provide further support in the current crisis.
* However, tensions emerged with UAE and Saudi Arabia during the Arab Spring, particularly over the role of political Islam. This reversed a golden period of cooperation in the 2000s.
* The end of the Qatar boycott and the Libyan civil war have created a window for reconciliation.
* Hints of a recent softening in Turkish-Egyptian relations, albeit tentative, could extend to Saudi Arabia, although the ongoing Khashoggi trial remains a threat to this.
* A revival in exports to Saudi (down sharply in recent months, due to an informal boycott) and a pickup in tourism could provide a significant economic boon for Turkey.
* Lasting reconciliation with the UAE will be more difficult, given a deeper conflict of interests and ideology, but may not be economically vital, because trade remains brisk.
* The UAE and Qatar are both involved in the dispute over Eastern Mediterranean borders and gas that is driving Turkish relations with Egypt and the EU currently.

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