President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan visited the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) yesterday to inaugurate the Ercan International Airport’s new terminal. Earlier this week, he started a new chapter of cooperation with Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Deepening Türkiye’s ties with those three Gulf states in trade, defense, technology, communication and security amounts to more than just reciprocal investments. After all, Türkiye has been gaining influence over the balance of power in that region. The country now seeks to form strategic alliances with Riyadh and Abu Dhabi – as it did with Doha several years ago. It is also possible for other Gulf states to become part of that trend.
Ankara thus assumes a brand new role in the region, actively talking about normalization, investments, stability, security and win-win situations. It also promotes regional order and integration by taking concrete steps.
It is certainly true that the Biden administration’s new Middle East policy, together with the Ukraine war’s impact, encouraged countries in the region to reassess the situation. That is why those nations, which responded to global uncertainty with independent policies, seized opportunities, acted quickly and launched new win-win initiatives, gaining the upper hand. In this sense, Saudi Arabia and the UAE have outpaced other Gulf states and have already taken concrete steps. The competition between them over attracting investments and shaping the region’s political landscape, however, has been attracting international media attention.
It goes without saying that a destructive rivalry among regional powers in the Gulf, which global powers monitor closely with an eye on energy, defense, logistics and finance, would not serve anyone’s interests. Having built reliable bonds with friends and allies in the region, Türkiye could help end ongoing crises and keep a lid on local rivalries. The diplomatic experience that Erdoğan accumulated over two decades, not to mention Türkiye’s recent expansion of its capacity to exercise hard/soft power, would prove extremely useful in that regard.
It is noteworthy that rekindling ties with the United States and the European Union would help Türkiye play that role in the Gulf. At the same time, collaborating with Türkiye, a country that has more influence over the balance of power in the Balkans, the Eastern Mediterranean, the Caucasus, Central Asia and Africa, would entail major geopolitical gains for the Gulf states.
My takeaway from Erdoğan’s most recent tour of the Gulf is that he emerged as a reasonable leader who makes the right recommendations vis-à-vis mutual long-term interests and puts them into practice.
In this article
- Global Actors | Local Actors
- Gulf Countries
- Hakan Fidan
- Leaders' Diplomacy
- Middle East
- Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
- Saudi Arabia
- Turkish Foreign Minister
- Turkish Foreign Policy
- Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC)
- Turkish-Qatari Relations
- Turkish-Saudi Relations
- Türkiye-Gulf Relations
- Türkiye-Qatar Relations
- Türkiye-Saudi Arabia Relations
- Türkiye-UAE Relations
- United Arab Emirates (UAE)