Over the last 24 hours, Donald Trump and Recep Tayyip Erdogan have given statements indicating their positions on Qatar, positions which each seem more concerned with defining their own status as world leaders than about the actual situation in the Gulf.
Erdogan’s statements are generally more straightforward than those coming from Donald Trump. Erdgoan clearly sees the crisis in the Gulf as a way to finally achieve one of his long term goals in re-establishing neo-Ottoman Turkish influence over the Arab world.
Erdogan first attempted this in 2010 when Israel raided a Turkish vessel used to bring international aid items to besieged Gaza. Although Israel’s violent raid was manifestly criminal, Erdogan’s re-modelling himself as the saviour of Palestine did not ultimately succeed and Erdogan has in recent years, quietly patched everything up with Tel Aviv.
Erdogan’s next attempt at exercising influence over the Arab world were his military invasions and occupations of Iraq and especially Syria. This continues to fail and in some ways Turkey has admitted the failure of backing anti-Damascus jihadists. The admission comes in the form of Turkey joining the Russian led Astana Group along with Syria’s ally Iran.
Now, with Qatar, Erdogan is using much of the same rhetoric as in both previous attempts to jump into Arab affairs.
Erdogan stated his unequivocal support for the Qatari regime,
“Now, there are ones who are bothered because of us being together with our Qatari brothers or sending and exporting food supplies, drugs etc – no matter if they are in hunger or thirst – should excuse us. We will continue to give all our support to Qatar”.
“It is wrong to add more troubles on top of everything in the term that the Muslim world is already struggling with a lot of problems.
I am calling you: There won’t be any winners in the brother’s fight”.
Meanwhile, America has taken a total opposite approach, siding fully with the regime of Saudi Arabia which has led the charge against Qatar. This theoretically pins the two largest armies in NATO against each other in an Arab Cold War which still could turn hot.
Donald Trump has said,
“I decided, along with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, our great generals and military people, the time had come to call on Qatar to end its funding ‒ they have to end that funding ‒ and its extremist ideology”.
He continued by extending an ultimatum to Qatar in the form of a strange olive branch,
“For Qatar, we want you back among the unity of responsible nations….
We ask Qatar and other nations in the region to do more, and do it faster… Hopefully it will be the beginning of the end of funding terrorism”.
This statement is almost surreal in its levels of hypocrisy.
The United States has under Barack Obama and briefly under Donald Trump argued for regime change in Syria, though not even the most outlandish neo-con has argued that Syria sponsors terrorism. Some, like Trump have even admitted that Syria is fighting terrorism. Yet for some reason ‘Assad must go’?
Then there is Iran which is on the same side of the battle field as Syria fighting Salafist terrorist groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda yet stands accused by the United States of being a state sponsor of terrorism is constantly threatened with more sanctions and war. This has happened in spite of the fact that Iran is on the same side of the anti-terrorist divide as Russia with whom Trump personally wanted a kind of partnership against ISIS.
This makes American pronouncements on Qatar all the more absurd. Qatar does indeed sponsor terrorism and the issue has become headline news ever since the world’s biggest state sponsor of terrorism, Saudi Arabia accused Qatar of sponsoring terrorism.
The latest statements from Trump imply that Qatar ought to ‘play nice’ and then everything can go back to normal.
Has the level of US inconsistency got so bad that countries can be invaded and occupied for not sponsoring terrorism but merely given a warning if they do?
This demonstrates not only the lack of any real consistency in but the total duplicity of contemporary US foreign policy.
You know you’re in trouble when Recep Tayyip Erdogan is the more consistent and forthright person in the argument, but when it comes to statements from the US vis-a-vis those of Turkey, that is the present reality.