“Normalizing relations between the two sides has internal factors and regional and economic consequences”
After nearly 10 years in freezing relations between both sides, on August 31, 2021, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Crown Prince of the Emirate Mohemed Bin Zyad, made a phone call and as it has expected they met in Ankara on Wednesday (November 24, 2021). In a ceremony, Erdogan and Bin Zayed signed 10 agreements in various fields. Normalizing relations between the two sides has internal factors, regional and economic consequences. In this paper, Mediterranean Institute for Regional Studies (MIRS) focuses on them.
First, the principles of differences of Turkey and the Arab Emirates
For ten years, Abu Dhabi and Ankara have been fighting each other from the Middle East and North Africa from Libya to Qatar, Syria and Yemen. While some other regions were threatened with competition between them such as Balkans, Central Asia and Gulf of Adan and Somalia
After the Arab Spring, Turkey accused the UAE of having relations with Israel, while Turkey was the first hegemonic Islamic state to recognize and congratulate Israel in 1948. In the nineties of twentieth century until The Justice and Development Party (AKP) reached power in 2002, Israel’s strongest military, intelligence, economic and diplomatic relations in the region were with Turkey. In response, the UAE has always observed the Muslim Brotherhood as a political and security threat, which Turkey and the AKP support without any disregard for the Muslim Brotherhood project in the region. In particular, the problem deepened when both Saudi Arabia and the UAE co-ordinated July 2013 coup of Abdul Fatah el-Sisi.
After Israel and the UAE began diplomatic relations, on August 13, 2020, both sides signed (Abraham-Ibrahim) agreement and then normalized their relations at the White House. Thus the UAE became the third Arab state after Egypt (1979) and Jordan (1994) to normalize relations with Israel. The Gulf has great economic and security position to Israel.
Second, local encouragements to bring Turkey and the UAE closer
Duqm project and marginalizing UAE in The Arabian Gulf
“Duqm” is an important strategic channel in Oman, which falls on the Arabian Sea (towards India), where Oman, unlike the UAE, is a peaceful state. This has led Saudi Arabia to reach a key agreement with Oman in July 2021 to open an 800-kilometre high-speed auto way connecting Saudi Arabia to the Sultanate of Oman’s “Duqm” port.
Saudi history and Amman’s position will be stronger, because the history of Saudi relations with the US and British administrations is more than that the UAE establishment’s period. Saudi Arabia is OPEC’s second-leading oil exporting, which produces 12 million barrels of oil per day in 2021. Therefore, normalizing relations between the UAE and Turkey is not in a usual situation, but both (especially Turkey) have faced severe economic threats. Another challenge is that apart from Saudi Arabia and Oman in the Arabian Gulf, another rival of the United Arab Emirates is Qatar.
Erdogan and Bin Zayed finally normalized their relations in Ankara in 2021 due to regional and economic needs and have signed a contracted with the value of 10 billion dollars in 10 different fields. Erdogan’s first job with the UAE is to working together each of Central Bank of Turkey and Central Bank of the United Arab Emirates. Later, if the UAE can open the door to Turkey’s relations with Israel or Egypt, so Turkey will succeed in overcoming internal problems, otherwise if Turkey’s economic collapse is an Israeli-European decision (related to the Cyprus issue) and the US administration, Turkey’s economy will destroy Erdogan.