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Monday, April 19, 2021

Erdogan pushes for end to Qatar boycott during Gulf trip

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Turkey’s President Recep Erdogan meets with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman. Credit: SPA

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan kicked off an official trip to the GCC yesterday with a visit to Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

He first went to Jeddah, where he met King Salman and new Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to discuss the ongoing GCC crisis.

Prior to leaving Istanbul, Erdogan stressed it “is not in anyone’s interests” to continue the dispute.

Flags of the boycotting nations (UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt). Credit: WAM

According to Al Jazeera, he also blamed unnamed “enemies” for seeking to “fire up tensions between brothers” in the region.

Erdogan has proven to be a key ally to Qatar since the country’s neighbors closed their borders and airspace, and is expected in Doha today.

He is the fifth world leader to visit the region to help resolve the crisis. It began nearly two months ago after Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and the UAE closed their borders and airspace to Qatar for political reasons.

International support

So far, Turkey, France, the US and mediator Kuwait have all urged the Gulf states to end their fight with Qatar.

Just yesterday, the UK’s foreign secretary added his voice.

Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Boris Johnson. Credit: Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

In a statement, Boris Johnson welcomed recent changes Qatar made to its terrorism laws, adding:

“We hope in turn Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt and Bahrain respond by taking steps toward lifting the embargo. This will allow substantive discussions on remaining differences to begin.”

However, the boycotting countries continue to pressure Qatar to meet several demands.

In response to a speech the Emir made over the weekend, a senior UAE official welcomed Sheikh Tamim’s call for dialogue.

But he added that Qatar must make certain changes before talks can start.

That said, the UAE’s telecom providers did unblock Qatar-owned BeinSports this week, raising hopes that resolution is near.

Turkey’s help

When he visits Qatar today, Erdogan is expected to receive a warm welcome.

Turkey has supported Qatar over the past several weeks with food imports and by speeding up the deployment of Turkish troops to the country, as per a 2014 military agreement.

Turkish troops arrive in Qatar. Credit: Ministry of Defense

This will reportedly be Erdogan’s first face-to-face meeting with the Emir since the dispute began last month.

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