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memri
August 30, 2018 No.
7650

Against The Backdrop Of The U.S.-Turkey Crisis, Qatar Mobilizes To Help Turkey

The ongoing U.S.-Turkey tensions, the result of political and economic disputes, have recently escalated further following Turkey's refusal to free the detained American pastor Andrew Brunson. Brunson is accused of being a spy who attempted to overthrow the government in the 2016 coup attempt.[1] Another reason for the escalation is Turkey's decision to purchase the Russian S-400 missile defense system, instead of the U.S.-made Patriot system – leading U.S. lawmakers in July 2018 to discuss legislation to block the delivery to Turkey of F-35 fighter jets that is part of a joint U.S.-Turkey effort.[2]

In early August, the Trump administration began taking steps against Turkey, in the form of sanctions on Turkey's justice and interior ministers,[3] and Turkey responded with sanctions on the U.S. "justice and interior" secretaries.[4] Additionally, on August 10, President Trump announced that the existing U.S. import levies on Turkish steel and aluminum would be doubled, adding to the plunge of the Turkish lira.[5] Likewise, according to an August 19, 2018 report, the Trump administration has refused to call a halt to the investigation of the leading Turkish bank Halkbank, which faces billions of dollars in fines for allegedly violating U.S. sanctions on Iran, until Pastor Brunson is released.[6]

Against the background of this tension, Qatar has mobilized to come to the aid of its ally Turkey, as reflected in Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad Aal Thani's and other Qatari officials' expressions of support for it, and in an economic aid package totaling $18 billion ($15 billion in aid and a $3 billion line of credit). Qatar's mobilization to support Turkey in its conflict with the U.S. was also expressed in articles and op-eds in the Qatari press. Alongside articles that emphasized the warm relations and the alliance between the two countries,[7]other articles stressed Turkey's independence vis-à-vis the U.S. They even reiterated Turkey's claim that the economic sanctions against it were part of a U.S. conspiracy, after the U.S. failed to harm Turkey with the 2016 coup attempt.[8] Some articles praised Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for his valor in standing up to the U.S., and criticized the boycotting countries (Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt) for failing to stand alongside him, and for even rejoicing in Turkey's troubles.

 

Cartoon on Arabi21.com, August 17, 2018: Everybody bends to the U.S. except Erdogan

This report will review the Qatari regime's measures to support Turkey and Qatari officials' statements of support for Turkey, and will present translated excerpts from articles in the Qatari press condemning the U.S. and praising Turkish policy.

Qatari Regime Stands With Turkey: Billions Of Dollars In Economic Aid, Blatant Political Support

As noted, against the backdrop of the rising tension between the U.S. and Turkey, the Qatari regime has hastened to support Turkey, both economically and politically. Thus, on August 12, 2018, a few days after President Trump announced sanctions and quotas for Turkey, former Qatari prime minister Hamed bin Jassem tweeted: "I am certain that Turkey will emerge strong from this crisis. It will take some time, but there is the will and the activity [to do so]."[9]

A few days later, on August 15, Qatari Emir Tamim Hamed Aal Thani arrived in Ankara for a visit, during which he met with President Erdoğan and announced that Qatar was granting Turkey economic aid that included investments and grants totalling $15 billion.[10] Also during the visit, the emir tweeted that his country was standing with Turkey, as Turkey had stood with it, and described in detail the economic aid he was providing.[11] Erdoğan tweeted his thanks, in both Arabic and Turkish.[12]


Qatari Emir Tamim Hamed Aal Thani's tweet about the visit and Qatar's economic aid to Turkey (Source: @TamimBinHamad, August 15, 2018)


Turkish President Erdogan's tweet thanking the Qatari Emir for his aid. (Source: rterdogan_ar, August 15, 2018)

Against the backdrop of the visit, Qatari Ambassador to Turkey Salem bin Mubarak Al-Shafi stated: "Turkey is our strategic ally and we won't hesitate to provide it with the necessary support..." He called the Qatari emir's visit "proof of the strength of the relationship between Qatar and Turkey," adding that many Qatari citizens had purchased millions of dollars of Turkish currency to support and revitalize it.[13]

Turkish Ambassador to Qatar Fikret Ozer said that the the Qatari emir's visit to Turkey reflected the friendly relations between the countries, and that the leaders' meeting was one between brothers. He told the Qatari Al-Sharq daily: "Qatar's and Turkey's standing with each other at various times strengthens the cooperation and friendship between the two sister countries." About the economic cooperation between the two countries, he said that Qatar was one of the most important investors in Turkey and that the scope of its investments there had reached $23 billion.[14]

A few days after the Qatari emir's visit to Turkey, Qatar announced additional steps aimed at supporting the Turkish economy. On August 19, 2018, the Qatar Central Bank announced that it had signed an agreement with the Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey to support the Turkish lira, in order to stabilize the Turkish economy.[15] In addition, on August 20, 2018, Qatar authorized the opening of a $3 billion line of credit to support the Turkish financial system.[16]

The August 20, 2018 meeting between Qatari Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani and U.S.  Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was surrounded by rumors that Qatar was mediating between Turkey and the U.S. These rumors were denied by the Qatari foreign minister,[17] as well as by U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Arabian Gulf Affairs Tim Lenderking, on the U.S.-based public Arabic-language satellite TV channel Alhurra.[18]

Qatari Press: The Economic Crisis In Turkey Is Part Of An American Conspiracy; The Qatari Aid Demonstrates Its Power And Independent Decision-Making

As stated, Qatar's support for Turkey in response to its crisis with the U.S. was also reflected in reports and articles in the Qatari press; some articles also criticized the majority of the Arab countries that had not expressed support for Turkey. For example, on August 15, 2018, the London-based Qatari daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi ran an article headlined "Turkey is Following the Positions of the Arab Countries with Respect to Its Crisis with the U.S.: Official Silence, Media Celebration and Public Identification." The article criticized official Arab elements that had not expressed support for or solidarity with Turkey, as well as large Arab media outlets that had expressed satisfaction with Turkey's struggles. The article also drew attention to Qatari emir's Turkey visit, the phone conversation that took place two days prior to the visit between Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah and Erdogan, and also to the social media campaigns in Qatar and Kuwait calling for support for Turkey and asking the public to exchange their dollars for Turkish lira in a show of solidarity with the country.[19] Editorials and columns in Qatari dailies praised the emir's visit to Turkey and the economic aid granted to it and even reiterated Turkey's claim that there was an American conspiracy against it.[20]

Editor Of Qatari Daily: Qatar And Turkey Support Each Other In Times Of Crisis; Turkey Has Become Attractive To Qatari Investors

In an August 16, 2018 article in the Qatari establishment daily Al-Sharq, the paper's editor-in-chief, Sadiq Mohammed Hussein Amari, praised Qatar-Turkey relations, noting that the two countries stand by each other in times of crisis. He wrote: "Those who follow Qatar-Turkey relations are noticing that the two countries have been growing closer, to the extent that they are taking the same positions on Arab, regional, and international issues...

"These relations grew even closer and took on a special character during the recent Gulf crisis and in light of its repercussions, chief among them the oppressive siege on Qatar [the boycott of Qatar by the Arab Quartet]. Turkey took a moral and courageous stance, supporting truth and justice and opposing the conspiracy of the siege without spewing [empty] slogans in the region...

"Yesterday [August 15, 2018] saw a special development in these fraternal relations between Doha and Ankara, when the Qatari Emir [Sheikh Tamim] visited Turkey and met with his brother, President Erdoğan, and the two discussed the close and strategic relations between the two sister countries... The importance and impact of this visit derives from its timing and the atmosphere in which it takes place, amid the temporary economic crisis that Turkey is experiencing following the sudden drop in the value of the Turkish lira. This provided Doha, which does not forget the positions [taken by] others, especially in times of crisis, a chance to show its support for Turkey, which is waging a campaign to restore the value of the lira...

"Without a doubt, Qatar-Turkey relations are characterized by coordination and concord in every respect, based on the shared positions of the two sister countries on all Arab, regional and international issues... Furthermore, Turkey has become an attractive market for Qatari investors... From the financial and banking perspective, Qatar has lately been one of the biggest purchasers of financial assets in the Turkish market, and may take the place of the European banks [in Turkey]...

"The emir's visit to Ankara... is resounding proof of Qatar's independent decision-making and of the impact [it has] when it takes the side of truth and liberty..."[21]    

Qatari Columnist: Turkish President Erdogan Is The Paragon Of A Leader Who Does Not Surrender To The U.S. – Unlike The Boycotting Countries

Yaqub Al-Abidli, a columnist for the Qatari Al-Watan daily, praised Erdoğan, calling him a paragon of a leader who does not submit to President Trump and does not fear standing up to him – in contrast with the countries that are boycotting Qatar and that have become subservient to the U.S. and Israel. He wrote: "As long as the leader of a country serves the interests of the Zionist entity and the U.S. and realizes their goals – [namely] spreading chaos in the Arab region and in the Gulf... and besieging and boycotting his neighbors [i.e. Qatar] – he will be close [to the U.S. and Israel] and dear to them, worthy of their attention and generous support.

"There are countries, governments and leaders who have changed their spots, their masks, their garments and their principles at the expense of their religion and of the will of their people. The best example of this is what we see, hear and read about the countries that are boycotting, inciting against, and threatening Qatar... These governments have deposited all their assets with yesterday's enemies [the U.S. and Israel], who have now become friends, making open and hidden pacts with them in order to satisfy their arrogance and win [their] respect... even at the expense of their weak peoples that are controlled with fire and an iron fist!

"Conversely, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, President of the Turkish Republic, is a leader, a man and a symbol, the chief of all presidents and clear-sighted men, who succumbs only to the truth and does not remain silent in the face of oppression, injustice and corruption. He knows how to handle Trump and his friends, and how to confront them as an equal among equals, without paying them billions in protection and without remaining silent about their crimes and failings. He secured successful reforms for his people and nation and made glorious economic achievements, and when the U.S. denied visas to Turkish nationals, Turkey responded in kind... The U.S. ambassador [in Ankara] asked to meet with the Turkish justice minister, and the minister refused. Turkey's prime minister declared that all Turkish officials would refuse [to meet] this ambassador. Trump announced from the White House that the crisis with Turkey was an error caused by the U.S. State Department [sic],[22] and the heroic knight Erdogan held America responsible for the results of the crisis. Allah the Almighty said [in Quran 54:45]: ' [Their] assembly will be defeated, and they will turn their backs [in retreat].' Turkey will triumph, just as it triumphed against the perpetrators of the 2016 coup, and the 90 million Turks will live in freedom and honor..."[23]


Cartoon in Qatari daily: Turkey overcomes "lira crisis" with Qatar's help (Al-Arab, Qatar, August 28, 2018)

Journalist With Al-Jazeera And Qatari Daily: The U.S. Is Trying To Harm Turkey Because Of Its Economic Stability – But It Will Fail

Ahmad Muaffaq Zaidan is a Syrian journalist with the Qatari branch of Al-Jazeera who previously directed the channel's Pakistan office and currently hosts an interview program. According to a leaked document from June 2012, the U.S. National Security Agency labeled him a member of Al-Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood and placed him on a terror watch list.[24] In his August 19, 2018 column in the Qatari daily Al-Arab, he argued that the U.S.-led conspiracy to wipe out the economic achievements of Erdogan's ruling party in Turkey would fail: "Two years after the failed coup in Turkey, which targeted [its] democracy and legitimate [regime] with the conspiratorial support of America and the West in general, Turkey is now the target of an economic coup led by America, which only yesterday was a legitimate and traditional ally of Turkey. But Washington has turned against all its allies and all the values it used to uphold, [and is now] favoring separatist militias that the world regards as terrorist, such as the PKK and others, over Turkey – its traditional ally that proved its loyalty and cooperated [with the U.S.] for decades.

"The U.S. has now declared a ruthless economic war on Turkey, the pioneer of democracy in the Arab world. The worst thing is that the countries boycotting [Qatar, namely Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE], welcome and applaud the fall of the Turkish lira, as though this war is their war...

"It was the economic situation that boosted Turkey's [ruling] Justice and Development party – so Washington is acting to remove this economic booster and the economic achievements which earned the party several electoral [wins], along with the achievement of transforming Turkey from a parliamentary regime into a presidential one. Washington has no choice but to resort to its old tactics of promoting military coups, only now the coups will be economic, as befits the era of globalization. In the previous century, the U.S. suppressed the liberty of the peoples of Iran, Turkey, Syria, Egypt and Pakistan by supporting revolutionaries who opposed the people's desire for liberty, justice, democracy and wise government...

"The scope of the conspiracy against Turkey is a sign of its strength... The military coup against the Turkish democracy failed, and their economic coup [against Turkey] will fail as well, Allah willing..."[25]

Qatari Journalists: Turkey Will Overcome The Conspiracy Against It With Qatar's Help

Dr. Rabia bin Sabah Al-Kuwari, a Qatari academic and intellectual and columnist for the Qatari daily Al-Sharq, also argued that because of Turkey's economic growth, some countries – alluding to the U.S. – seek to damage it and to bring down its economy in any way they can. He praised Qatar's support for Turkey and said that it would continue to be the factor that assists those in need of its help: "Through its generous support for Turkey in the recent period, Qatar has been a shining example of a pioneering and impressive country that helps those deserving of help when they are in dire straits, [subject to] a conspiracy by the international community aimed at destroying an economically powerful and influential country. Such is the tradition of the honorable [Qatari Emir Sheikh] Tamim, who supports friends in their hour of need, despite [all] challenges and difficulties. As a result, Turkey will continue to be a stable country that withstands all the conspiracies [hatched by] some of the superpowers and their mercenary allies, countries  that only want to harm [other] countries that are marching towards progress...

"Qatar was the first to support Turkey and to hasten to rescue it from the [current] crisis that was caused suddenly by some of the enemies of the Turkish triumph – [a triumph] that broke every record and brought Turkey to the pinnacle [of prosperity]... Qatar has made a clear and significant mark on Turkey's modern history, which will not fade with time..."[26]     

Similar sentiments were expressed by the Qatari daily Al-Arab, which wrote in its August 16 editorial: "The emir's visit to Ankara – and he is the first leader to visit the Turkish capital since the latest developments – proves that Qatar does not forget who supported it in times of difficulty... That is what prompted the announcement tweeted by the emir, and the announcement issued by the Qatari presidency, regarding the direct investment of $15 billion in Turkey... The relations between Doha and Ankara, and the cooperation between them in international forums, are expected to grow even stronger and deeper, amid the growing role of these two countries, which have been conspicuously influential players and rising powers in the regional and global arenas...

"Just as Turkey overcame all the obstacles placed in its path by those who envied its success – [a camp] which sadly includes certain elements in this region, [and whose crimes range from] the financing of terror operations on Turkish territory to support for the failed coup – so will it overcome the attempts to undermine its national currency..."[27]

 


Cartoon in Qatari daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi, August 20, 2018: Trump lowers the value of the "Turkish lira."

 


[1] Edition.cnn.com, July 29, 2018.

[2] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), July 12, 2018; Voanews.com, July 18, 2018. In this context, Turkish President Erdogan threatened to appeal to international arbitration if the U.S. did not deliver the aircraft. See also Raialyoum.com, July 29, 2018.

[3] Nytimes.com, August 1, 2018.  

[4] CNN.com, NBCnews.com, August 4, 2018.  Erdogan said in a televised speech on August 4, 2018: "Today I will give our friends instructions to freeze the assets in Turkey of the American justice and interior ministers, if they have any [such assets]," but did not specify exactly to which members of the administration he was referring. (Middleeasteye.net, August 4, 2018). The US Attorney General is Jeff Sessions and while the US does not have an interior ministry similar to Turkey, the Secretary of the Interior is Ryan Zinke and Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security is Kirstjen Nielsen.

[5] @realDonaldTrump, The Washington Post, August 10, 2018.

[6] Marketwatch.com, August 19, 2018.

[7] The articles in the Qatari press stated that Qatar was the first to extend help to Turkey in the current crisis, just as Turkey had stood by Qatar during the Gulf crisis and is still supporting it in light of the Saudi, UAE, Bahraini, and Egyptian boycott against it that has continued for over a year. For example, in June 2017, Turkey sent ships with food supplies to Qatar. Aa.com.tr, June 22, 2017. For more on the Gulf crisis, see MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis No. 1315, Uproar In The Gulf Following Alleged Statements By Qatari Emir Condemning Gulf States, Praising Iran, Hizbullah, Muslim Brotherhood And Hamas, May 25, 2017.

[8] President Erdogan said on August 12, 2018 that his country was the victim of a political conspiracy by several elements aimed at accomplishing with economic warfare what they failed to accomplish with the 2016 coup attempt. See Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), August 12, 2018.

[9] @Hamadjjalthani, August 12, 2018.

[10] Al-Watan (Qatar), August 16, 2018.

[11] @TamimBinHamad, August 15, 2018.

[12] @Rterdogan_ar, August 15, 2018.

[13] Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London), August 16, 2018.

[14] Al-Sharq (Qatar), August 16, 2018.

[15] Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London), August 19, 2018.

[16] Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London), August 20, 2018.

[17] Aljazeera.net, August 22, 2018.

[18] Alhurra.com, August 21, 2018.

[19] Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London), August 15, 2018.

[20] See Al-Watan (Qatar), August 14, 2018, Raialyoum.com, August 15, 2018, Al-Watan (Qatar), Al-Rai (Qatar), August 16, 2018.

[21] Al-Sharq (Qatar), August 16, 2018.

[22] A search of the U.S. media did not discover any such statement by Trump.

[23] Al-Watan (Qatar), August 13, 2018.

[24] Theintercept.com, May 8, 2015.

[25] Al-Arab (Qatar), August 19, 2018.

[26] Al-Sharq (Qatar), August 20, 2018.

[27] Al-Arab (Qatar), August 16, 2018.