Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited Qatar on Thursday, July 2 to meet Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani in his first post-pandemic trip, seeking to achieve his political ambitions and confirm his alliance with Doha, which is based on open financing for Ankara’s colonial and terrorist plans.
This visit comes about three months after Erdogan’s last foreign visit on March 9, when he visited the European Union headquarters in Brussels.
Erdogan drains Tamim
Ankara and Doha are linked by solid diplomatic relations and a convergence of views on most regional and international issues, but the Arab boycott against Qatar announced by Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain in June 2017 was a big reason for deepening the relationship between the two countries.
The Turkish interference in Libya has been one of the most prominent crises raised internationally this year, especially with Turkey’s insistence on gaining a regional role and achieving its ambitions in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Erdogan’s visit to Doha comes at a time when the international community is condemning Turkey’s activities and its support for armed militias in Libya, as Ankara is searching for support in its disputes, or at least a source of funding.
“Erdogan will exchange views with the Emir of Qatar on a broad basis regarding regional and international issues,” a statement from the Turkish presidency read.
Erdogan is accompanied on his visit by Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, National Intelligence Organization (MIT) head Hakan Fidan, presidency communications director Fahrettin Altun, and presidency spokesman Ibrahim Kalin.
The Turkish-Qatari relations are based on supporting and financing terrorism and providing safe havens for terrorist groups and members, but this visit comes within the framework of Qatar’s support for Turkey’s actions in Libya, which explains the significance of the timing.
Erdogan seeks to implement his plans in a manner that provides him de facto control of gas exploration, and the severity of statements from Ankara in this regard have escalated since the announcement of the EastMed pipeline agreement between Cyprus, Egypt, Greece and Israel last year.
Cyprus has been divided along ethnic lines since 1974, after a Greek coup followed by Turkish military intervention. All previous UN-brokered talks have failed to reunite the island, including the last round of talks that ended in July 2017.
Experts believe natural gas reserves off Cyprus to be estimated at 227 billion cubic meters.
As Turkey seeks to stabilize its footing in the region, it is looking to establish two military bases as part of its expansion project in Libya as part of Ankara’s plans to establish a military presence in North Africa and the southern Mediterranean.
Turkey, which supports the Government of National Accord (GNA) militias in Libya, is seeking joint cooperation for Turkey to use two military bases, one at the port in Misrata and the second at Al-Watiya airbase.
The Misrata port, which Ankara intends to convert into a naval base, will serve its plans to explore for gas in the Eastern Mediterranean, which poses a threat to Libyan, Arab and European security.
The Al-Watiya airbase, which is controlled by the Turkish-backed GNA forces, is the most important military airbase in western Libya, located 140 km from the capital Tripoli and 27 km from the Tunisian border on an area of 50 km, which can accommodate more than 7,000 soldiers.
Turkey has sought Qatari investment in this project through a number of economic and strategic agreements between the two countries in recent years.
Qatar and Turkey announced the agreement to raise the level of local currency exchange, after Qatar agreed to increase it from $5 billion to $15 billion. This is important for Ankara as Turkey works to recover from its economic crisis and the repercussions of the corona crisis, so it is in need of hard currency.
In August 2018, a currency exchange agreement was signed between the central banks of Qatar and Turkey, at a value of $3 billion, to support the collapsed Turkish lira, as Tamim pledged to invest $15 billion in Turkish banks and financial markets. The agreement provides much needed foreign liquidity to compensate Ankara’s depleted reserves and contributes to the stability of the Turkish lira.
By the end of 2018, the volume of trade exchange between the two countries amounted to $2.28 billion, as Turkey represents a safe haven for Qatari investment, which has reached about $22 billion, while Turkish companies’ investments in Qatar amounted to $16 billion.