President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's visit to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar, which commenced yesterday, is important in reducing the tension among the Gulf states which emerged as a result of the Qatar crisis. Turkey has acted responsibly and taken initiative since the beginning of the crisis. Taking into account the delicate balance the two sides have observed, it has prevented the crisis from escalating.
Because the effect of the escalation of the crisis is not limited only to Qatar or the Gulf countries. If the crisis escalates, because the Middle East is also on the playing field, a new crisis area will emerge in this region. Every crisis in the Middle East works to Israel’s advantage.
Israel continues to persecute Palestinians, taking advantage of the strife between the Gulf countries. What is happening in Jerusalem displays the result of Israel’s unaccountability and inattention in this process. Israel gets the audacity to close al-Aqsa Mosque, the first kiblah of Islam, to worship, and bring restrictions, from the silence of the Gulf states and the problems between them.
On the other hand, Israel, in particular, seeks to carry Eastern Mediterranean energy sources to Europe and create a transition route between EU countries as an alternative to Qatar, which carries energy sources to international markets. It is as clear as day they are waiting for Qatar to be out of action.
In fact, the Qatar crisis is a seemingly-political equation designed and constructed to establish a new energy equation.
New balance in the Middle East and Mediterranean
The most important reason behind efforts to establish this equation in the field is the Eastern Mediterranean region.
As a result of research conducted by international energy companies in the waters of Israel, Greek Cyprus, Egypt, Lebanon and Palestine, many natural gas fields of various sizes were discovered.
The Eastern Mediterranean region is a transit route between the Middle East, Gulf and EU countries, who hosts the world's largest hydrocarbon field.
Therefore, Eastern Mediterranean countries, who want to be involved in the process in order to gain a significant share in the world’s natural gas market, are pushing for a new balance and equation in the region. The position of the Gulf countries, especially Qatar, is gaining prominence in terms of establishing this balance they desire. Qatar's prominence in natural gas is a risk for the establishment of the equation.
This is because Qatar has the largest market share in the world with 72 percent of liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports in the Gulf. Eastern Mediterranean countries, especially Israel, cannot easily accept Qatar having such a supremacy in energy. The attempt to block Qatar for no apparent reason stems from the purpose of imposing an energy blockade.
Turkey is the key country who can end this blockade. Turkey's geographical position and strategic moves in energy are increasing its influence in the energy equation. Both Israel and the Eastern Mediterranean countries are aware of the fact that Turkey is a key country in energy.
Because all energy players, including the Eastern Mediterranean countries, know that the cost of the equation to be established, irrespective of Turkey, will be high.
The extent of the significance of Turkey’s role has been once again seen in the Qatar crisis. The crisis did not escalate thanks to the dialogue Erdoğan has maintained with the Gulf states since day one of the crisis.
Thus, Turkey has been able to reduce tension and at the same time prove to be one of the most important and strategic countries to disperse the blockade in this period when Qatar is under blockade in the region.
If the blockade that Qatar has experienced has not transformed into political instability and chaos today, it’s due to Turkey’s great contribution.
Additionally, despite the blockade, Qatar has maintained its position as the largest export country in the world with newly discovered natural gas reserves and LNG. At this point, Turkey's contribution cannot be ignored.
Therefore, Turkey is an important player in the affairs between the Gulf countries, especially regarding energy issues. Turkey having a place among the Gulf states in the energy, economy and political equations is an opportunity for these countries.
Turkey's geographical position and the energy projects it undertakes, is an advantage, but the main advantage is the way Turkey approaches problems.
Therefore, the energy projects in which Turkey will take a part in will bring about a win-win situation for both reserve-holding and energy-demanding countries, and this will reshape not only the energy equation but also the political and economic equation.