Saudi-led Qatar blockade brings Iran, Turkey together

Turkey, and especially President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has continually enjoyed close ties with Qatar’s leaders. Their joint support for the Muslim Brotherhood is strong commonality between the two nations. After the fall of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Erdogan expressed full backing for the Brotherhood and Egypt’s president at the time, Mohammed Morsi.

This is while Qatar has also had close ties with the Brotherhood and enjoys warm relations with the Palestinian Hamas movement. These two groups have always been at the center of Saudi hostility, which is why it was not surprising that on June 7 Turkey’s parliament ratified military agreements that allowed its troops to be deployed to a Turkish military base in Qatar.

Meanwhile, in reference to the UAE, Erdogan announced on June 10, “We know very well who in the [Persian] Gulf was happy when the coup attempt took place in Turkey. If somebody has intelligence organizations, we also have an intelligence organization.”

Prior to the recent developments, Turkey enjoyed close relations with Saudi Arabia. In fact, Iran was concerned that their close ties could lead to Turkey joining Riyadh’s anti-Iran front. However, Saudi Arabia’s attempts to isolate Qatar, without considering Doha’s close relations with Ankara, have reignited differences between the two over their interpretation of the developments in countries such as Egypt and Tunisia during the Arab Spring and Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s 2013 coup.

Just as in the past, Turkey seems to have entered the Qatar crisis with little caution. Iran, meanwhile, was more cautious, with Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif posting a tweet on June 5 that read, “Neighbors are permanent; geography can’t be changed. Coercion is never the solution. Dialog is imperative, especially during blessed Ramadan.”

President Hassan Rouhani also sent a message to the Qatari emir, which was conveyed by Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein Jaberi Ansari during his visit to Doha on June 17. No details have been released about the content of this message.

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