Boycotting Turkish products: Saudi Arabia’s economic suicide attempt - ZEKERIYA KURŞUN

Boycotting Turkish products: Saudi Arabia’s economic suicide attempt

Echoes of dissent first came from Riyadh, soon after social media websites launched and ran a campaign to boycott Turkish products, so an atmosphere of hesitation reigned and opinions were split on those very same websites as comparisons began to be drawn between imported Turkish products and those manufactured locally. Authors, cartoonists, satirists and others also weighed in, and secret instructions were issued to customs services from official authorities to restrict the flow of imported Turkish products to the market.

In fact, Saudis and all the other Gulf peoples did not pay much attention to the calls for boycotting Turkish products because they were aware of their superior quality and affordable prices. Indeed, there were those who dared and announced their opposition to these calls and voiced their support for Turkish products by launching their own accounts to back them. They even have published many satirical material about the Jabal Ali Company, which is the largest producer of animal products in Saudi Arabia. In short, their first attempt to boycott Turkish products has failed.

However, they quickly launched a new campaign that spread over the past 24 hours on social media sites through many accounts calling to “boycot everything Turkish products” and a “popular boycott of Turkish products” as they started a new hashtag war.

Even some supermarket chains that at first continued to sell Turkish products began to issue successive statements in response to this political pressure that appeared in the form of social invitations. They declared that they would not import products from Turkey and would not sell them in their stores in solidarity with the boycott campaign launched by the Saudi people. They claimed they did so in response to the policy pursued by the Turkish government against their country, and that their "leaders" are a red line that cannot be crossed. It is no secret that all of these companies participated in the boycott campaign because they succumbed to the pressure, thus they mentioned in their advertisements that they would stop “buying products from Turkey" and that "they began inventory operations in their warehouses to get rid of those products at the earliest convenience"; it was also maliciously reported that they had begun “looking for alternative markets to import goods.”

That is, while they openly support the boycott campaign, it is as if they say, "Turkish products will spoil in the hands of their importers, so let's get rid of them quickly." Social media websites have published a photo from a supermarket chain that denotes a professional marketing tactic, as they posted banners at the most prominent places in their stores and on the products they packed the shelves with, that read in English "Don’t touch turkish items" to ensure that the regime and those who are behind this ridiculous campaign do not come after them, and simultaneously, they indirectly aim to promote these very same products.

There is no doubt that this campaign, which began in Saudi Arabia, was welcomed and supported as well in the UAE, Bahrain and Kuwait. Some accounts with large social media followings announced their support for the boycott campaign launched by Saudi Arabia. These accounts even criticize those that voice hesitation about the boycott campaign and announce that they back Turkish products by launching their own accounts to rally support.

Perhaps the pressing question here is: What harm has Turkey inflicted on Saudi Arabia? Why do some people want to impose a trade and tourism boycott campaign against Turkey without justification?

There is no doubt that the Saudi people are not behind this raging campaign. The whole world knows that the Arab peoples do not have any problem with Turkey, but they are forced to obey their systems and leaders who terrorize them. They also know that this boycott campaign comes immediately after the second anniversary of the murder of opposition journalist Jamal Khashoggi in a bid to change the agenda of events. But there is something they are oblivious to, which is the fact that their newly-imposed regimes in their countries are sowing hostility with Turkey in various ways in order to normalize relations with Israel, with the aim of ensuring their future and continuity; thus the leaders of these countries think that the more they increase the dose of hostility to Muslim Turkey and raise the level of their friendship with Israel, their thrones will be safe.

Look at the comparison made, while the accounts of some social media sites with millions of followers claim that the volume of trade between Turkey and Israel exceeds that between Turkey and Saudi Arabia, they claim that boycotting Muslim Turkey's products presents no religious or moral dilemma.

The volume of trade between Turkey and Saudi Arabia in relation to Turkey's foreign trade balance is negligible, so whatever their outlook on matters, this boycott campaign does not harm Turkey, but rather it deals a new blow to the Saudi economy, which is already in tatters, and it represents a great threat to a country where 70 to 80 % of its consumption is dependent on imported goods. So they should not be fooled by the numbers. As they say, “It’s the last straw that broke the camel’s back.”

For its part, Turkey can fill the void that Saudi Arabia leaves in its own way. In fact, Turkey will be more than happy that Saudi Arabia can stand on its own two feet in this field.

But let me tell you that things are going badly. As they were exposed after they put up a giant company, the largest in the world, Aramco, for public offering, they will also struggle with the remaining capital they have. Because when they allow low-quality products to enter their country without control or oversight, they will harm their own people, and face major environmental disasters in the near future, as many shops will be closed and thousands of workers will be laid off. In addition, this policy runs contrary to Vision 2030, which claims it aims to develop the private sector.

The boycott campaign against Turkish products is not considered a threat to Turkey, but rather it is a direct suicide attempt for Saudi Arabia, and Saudi society will not be able to tolerate this, nor will its leaders, who are considered a red line, overcome it. And surely time will tell.

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