I am writing this article in the scorching heat of the Gulf. The route of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s visit, which commenced on Sunday started with Saudi Arabia followed by Kuwait and then Qatar. The main agenda, as it is known, is the Qatar crisis. The crisis in question has been ongoing since the beginning of June 2017. As for Turkey, it continues to play a constructive role in this meaningful but hard to explain cold, because there is no good in neither the way Qatar is treated nor the tension the region has put itself into.
LNG and helium
Looking at the process that has been continuing for more than a month and a half from the viewpoint of Qatar; although there has been trouble in certain products, primarily food, after the blockade on goods, borders and roads, we saw that efforts were made to meet needs through alternative markets like Turkey and Iran. The first thing which comes to mind in the export wing, is, naturally, liquefied natural gas (LNG), which is the country’s major income source. Looking at the statements made, for now, Qatar does not seem too effected from the blockade on LNG export. Hence, while sales are largely made through Asia and Europe, for now, these markets do not seem exhausted as there is no problem in neither the long term of contracts nor the relevant lines. For example, in terms of the region, exchange with the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which makes profound LNG imports from Qatar, is ongoing. In addition to this, it is obvious that there are other serious problems in certain prominent industries in Qatar’s economy such as tourism and airlines. Also, while the finance industry is carefully watching the state of the Arabs’ money who treat the country like a stepchild, it should be noted that helium export is another branch that has been in trouble for a while now due to the land line blockade.
Actually, there is no doubt that what is happening has and/or will have implications not only on Qatar but also on the countries that have caused the crisis. With the collapse of oil prices in recent years, reflections in various industries and fields in the region seeking its old days of glory are inevitable for companies working with Qatar. What’s more important is that another cross has been put down, almost permanently, on the region’s stability and reliability scorecard due to the latest crisis produced in the Middle East conjuncture which is already stirred with crises.
It is apparent how prosperous a country Qatar is. With over $66,000 income per capita, it is at the top of the world in wealth. Shifting from an energy/commodity focused economy to a diverse structure, which is among the country’s latest goals, has significance for the future. As a matter of fact, it could be said the importance of the matter has come to light once more with this crisis.
Now, while on the one hand Qatar feels the value of diversifying production and markets, on the other hand, it is trying to remain standing against the sanctions it is facing. Frankly, despite the injuries it has suffered, it is able to manage it for now. Meanwhile, the sustainability of this wisdom requires that the crisis ends in the shortest time possible, before the wounds deepen. The most problematic matter here may be identified as the disputes and misunderstandings regarding the reasons of the blockade. At this point, putting aside Qatar’s denial of supporting terrorism, a claim by those who contrived the sanctions, it is possible to start various debates from Doha’s long-time attitude in the Gulf to its rapport with Tehran. It is, indeed, being debated.
There is no doubt that for this deadlock to be solved with common sense, the community also needs to make efforts to call the sides to dialogue. Hence, the constructive and peaceful approaches of the countries in the region, such as Kuwait and Turkey, is important. Of course, it is important to do this while maintaining sensitive balances. In addition to this, the dynamics in the background aside, voices are rising in the West as well, primarily in the U.S. and U.K., to end the crisis. Thus, different actors are waiting for the cold in the Gulf to wear off for different reasons.
Meanwhile, the Middle East’s crises do not seem to end. Masjid al-Aqsa, which is another item on President Erdoğan’s agenda, is in need of urgent international attention and solidarity.