Turkey's Erdogan holds talks with leaders over Gulf rift

Turkey's Erdogan holds talks with leaders over Gulf rift
3 min read
06 June, 2017
Turkey's president has spoken with the leaders of Qatar, Russia, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia to help end a diplomatic rift after Arab powers cut all ties with Doha on Monday.
Turkey enjoys friendly relations with Qatar [Anadolu]

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has spoken by phone with the leaders of Qatar, Russia, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia on lowering tensions, after Arab powers cut ties with Doha on Monday over its alleged support of "terrorism".

"The importance of regional peace and stability was underlined in the talks, as well as the importance of focusing on the path of diplomacy and dialogue to lower the current tension," presidential sources said in a statement, according to Reuters.

Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, plus Egypt and Yemen, announced they were cutting all ties with Qatar, accusing it of supporting extremism, in what has been described as the biggest diplomatic crisis in the region for years.

Qatar has long denied any support of extremists, and accused its Gulf neighbours of seeking to put the country under their "guardianship".

While Turkey enjoys friendly relations with Qatar, it also maintains good ties with other Gulf countries.

On Monday, Turkey' Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus told reporters after a cabinet meeting that Ankara wanted to help resolve the dispute.

Meanwhile, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said the severing of diplomatic ties between Qatar and the five Arab countries "really saddened all of us".

"There could be problems between the countries but dialogue must prevail under all circumstances," Cavusoglu told reporters, adding Ankara was ready to do its best to help resolve the dispute.

"We will give any kind of support for the situation to be normalised," he said.

'Baseless claims'

In a statement published by Qatar's foreign ministry, authorities said the decision to cut ties with Doha, which it claims was clearly pre-meditated, "is based on baseless fabricated claims".

"Qatar has been the target of a systematic incitement campaign that promoted outright lies, which indicates that there was a prior intent to harm the state," the statement said.

Doha reaffirmed its dedication to the Gulf Co-operation Council and said it respected the sovereignty of all other member states and has not interfered in their "internal affairs", as has been alleged.

"Qatar is also dedicated to its obligation in the war on terrorism and extremism. It is clear that the media campaign against Qatar has failed, especially in Gulf nations, which explains this escalation," it said, adding, "the fabrication" of a media crisis used to increase pressure against it is evidence that there are "no legitimate causes to take the decision to cut ties".

"The goal is clear, enforcing guardianship over our country which is a blatant violation of our sovereignty, which is completely unacceptable. The statement released by the three GCC nations makes it clear that the relentless fabricated media campaign against Qatar was pre-planned."

The escalation is likely to have wide-ranging consequences, not just for Qatar and its citizens but around the Middle East and for Western interests.

Monday's announcement came less than a month after US President Donald Trump visited Saudi Arabia to cement ties with Riyadh, where he called for a united front among Muslim countries against extremism.

It also followed weeks of rising tensions between Doha and its neighbours, including Qatari accusations of a concerted media campaign against the country and the alleged hacking of the Qatar News Agency.