Analysis of Erdogan’s Trip to Three Persian Gulf States

2023/08/06 | Note, political, top news

Strategic Council Online - Opinion: During the Turkish President’s recent visit to Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the UAE, several agreements were signed between the three Persian Gulf states and Turkey. The economic aspect of this trip has received widespread attention in the media, and the main objective of the trip, from Ankara’s point of view, has been referred to as attracting capital from Arab states of the Persian Gulf region. Mahmoud Fazeli - Analyst of international affairs

Turkey intends to develop its economic relations with the rich countries of the south of the Persian Gulf in an effort to reduce the financial problems caused by the increase in foreign debts, which led to the decrease in the value of the lira and the decline of the country’s position in the global ranking of investment risk. The increasing interest of the Persian Gulf countries in investing in various sectors is significant for Turkey, which is trying to increase its exports to reduce economic problems.

Turkey is very interested in attracting financial deposits from the Persian Gulf countries to Turkish banks to overcome the current situation and the continuous fall in the lira’s value in recent months. In addition, knowing about the increase in oil revenues of the Persian Gulf countries due to the jump in oil prices and the increase in the assets of national funds, Turkey seeks to achieve a greater share of the markets of the countries of the region. Turkey considers the Persian Gulf as one of the centers of global power competition. In this regard, it is trying to increase the scope of its economic and political presence in this region.
“Erdogan’s” trip to the Persian Gulf countries after the Turkish elections shows that increasing Turkey’s political and economic cooperation with the Persian Gulf countries is on the serious agenda of Turkey’s foreign policy.

With Erdogan’s visit to Saudi Arabia, relations between Ankara and Riyadh have entered a new phase after a tense period. Relations between the two countries were severely strained after the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist, in 2018 at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Turkey, by seriously pursuing the case at that time, starting an investigation, and informing the international media about the details of that murder, angered the rulers of Saudi Arabia. However, with the adjustment and rotation of Erdogan’s positions towards the Saudi Crown Prince, Erdogan visited Saudi Arabia in April 2022 in his regional policies. Bin Salman also officially visited Turkey in June last year, and in March, Saudi Arabia deposited 5 billion dollars in the Central Bank of Turkey.

Turkey and Saudi Arabia, members of the Group of 20, are trying to play a “balanced and effective role in maintaining international peace and security.” The two countries consider the improvement of bilateral relations and common understanding of relevant issues in line with the interests of Islamic countries and consider the dialogue between their heads of state as a clear sign of strengthening the relations between them. Both Riyadh and Ankara claim they are the pillars of stability and security in the Middle East as regional powers and international players.

Currently, 1140 Saudi companies are operating in Turkey, and 390 Turkish companies are present in Saudi Arabia, mainly active in food, cosmetics, and contracting. The volume of Turkish exports to Saudi Arabia in the first four months of the current year was 781 million dollars. The importance of trade between the two countries increased from 4.5 billion dollars in 2017 to 6.1 billion dollars in 2022. Turkey exported 1.05 billion dollars to Saudi Arabia last year, which amounted to 250 million dollars in 2021, indicating a jump in economic relations in the past two years. Turkey plans to increase trade volume with Saudi Arabia to 10 billion dollars in the coming years.

During the said trip, which was carried out with 200 businessmen and officials of the new Turkish government, delegations of Turkey and Saudi Arabia signed a memorandum of understanding on cooperation in strengthening direct investment between the two sides. The two countries also signed energy, defense, research, and economic development agreements. Memoranda of understanding were also signed in the field of direct investments. The signing of a memorandum of understanding on cooperation in communication and media and a memorandum of experience in the energy field were among the other achievements of Erdogan’s visit to Saudi Arabia.

Before traveling to the three Persian Gulf countries, Erdogan announced the promotion of trade exchanges with those countries over the past 20 years from 1.6 billion dollars to 22 billion dollars. Turkey also insists on attracting at least 25 billion dollars of capital from the governments of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the UAE, the main target of Erdogan’s visit to those countries, to reduce the domestic economic crisis. Erdogan’s regular visits to Arab countries of the Persian Gulf will probably lead to investments worth more than 50 billion dollars for Turkey.

In line with political objectives, Turkey has taken action through military cooperation with countries in the south of the Persian Gulf, and the agreement for the sale of Akinji UAVs from Baykar Company, a UAV manufacturer, is a sign of this. Of course, Turkey had started its military presence in the Persian Gulf since the Istanbul Initiative in 2004 within the framework of NATO cooperation with the Cooperation Council, and the military base in Qatar and the expanding military cooperation with Kuwait are evaluated in this context.

In the meeting that Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the President of the UAE, held for the fifth time in the past two years with his Turkish counterpart, the two sides emphasized their determination to develop the dimensions of a comprehensive economic partnership. The UAE-Turkey negotiations will likely accelerate major investment opportunities and business activities between the two countries, reviving the private sector and encouraging entrepreneurs. The UAE assesses Erdogan’s visit with the aim of greater engagement and diplomacy of trust. The negotiations between Al Nahyan and Erdogan aim to develop bilateral relations and cooperation. Continuing its development in different areas will benefit the two countries.

Relations between Turkey and Qatar have been developed in recent years in political, military, and economic fields, and Doha and Ankara have strong ties and strategic partnerships. Qatar claims that the partnership between Qatar and Turkey is currently “one of the most successful partnerships in the world and has reached the level of a strategic partnership with the strong political will of both the countries.”

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