New era with Gulf countries - ERDAL TANAS KARAGÖL

New era with Gulf countries

The strengthening of relations with Gulf countries as a result of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's visits will have an impact on many areas of the economy. Relations with Qatar and Bahrain, and especially Saudi Arabia, will accompany major developments in terms of both energy and defense in terms of the economy.

New equation being established

Economic relations between Turkey and the Gulf countries were neglected until the 2000s. The reason for this negligence was Turkey's political and economic instability, especially in the 1990s. However, this was not the only reason. There was also a special effort to avoid economic relations with Gulf countries.

In the last century, Turkey did not take part in this region, which has more than half of the world's oil and natural gas, and major barriers were established to prevent Turkey from being one of the regional players. As a result, those who established the equation in the region and who would determine the countries to be included in it were not the region's countries, but rather outside forces.

There was an ongoing and systematic attempt to prevent Turkey from cooperating with regional countries, especially on oil and natural gas resources, making economic agreements with them and particularly acting in unison with oil and gas-producing countries.

The continuation of an atmosphere of constant regional conflict strengthened this established equation. Therefore, the powers that established and managed the equation and those that fueled the atmosphere of conflict were the same.

The interesting thing is that the global powers, which denigrated Gulf countries and constantly formed a chaotic environment, established the equation and established cooperation in their own way.

Many oil and natural gas-rich Muslim countries did not use their oil and natural gas revenues and had to transfer them and their resources to the countries that established this equation. Many Muslim countries, especially Turkey, and even countries that transferred their revenues to these countries, were forced to borrow needed capital from these countries.

This is the proverbial vicious circle, so much so that they sometimes had to borrow from countries to which they transferred their resources to cover their own expenditures.

Even now, a lot of Muslim countries' revenues are held in these countries, which try to manage the equation and in their banks. Saudi Arabia has more U.S. bills and bonds than the national income of many countries.

A new opportunity for Muslim countries

Economy is the strongest instrument to have a say in the global economy and political arena. However, economic wealth or high revenue alone is not enough. There is also a need for cooperation that can use this economic potential and transform it into real value. This is the real reason why Gulf countries' economic wealth is being assessed in the U.S. and European countries. Muslim countries cannot act together and cannot bring their economic and political energy together.

Moreover, the period we are in is constantly pushing Muslim communities further out of the global system and marginalizing them. Discriminatory and marginalizing policies that have begun against Muslims and continue with Islamophobia, as well as U.S. President Donald Trump's executive order regarding for the travel ban on nationals from seven Muslim-majority countries, clearly show that it is time for a reassessment from Muslim countries.

This do not mean making declarations or statements, however. Muslim countries, especially Gulf countries, must take steps to boost economic cooperation and create economic value.

Turkey and Saudi Arabia, which have held greater economic and political influence in the region, can assume the role of leading countries in this process. They can create a role model for other Muslim countries with proactive policies and practices, especially in the areas of energy and finance.

It is necessary for these countries to create a common ground and strong economic cooperation by leaving aside different political and social disputes. This is the only way we can respond to the increasing efforts to marginalize Muslims.


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