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Regional Realignment in the Middle East?


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Institute Montaigne

Members of two rival camps in the Sunni Middle East - Qatar and Turkey on one side, and Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE, on the other - have continued a sustained diplomatic effort at reconciliation this summer. In mid-August the UAE's National Security Adviser, Sheikh Tahnoun bin Zayed Al Nahyan, met with Turkey's President, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. This was followed two weeks later by a "positive" phone call between Emirati Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed and the Turkish president. On September 7-8, Egyptian and Turkish officials held their second round of talks in Ankara. The earlier round, held in Cairo in May, was the first effort to normalize relations between the two states since 2013. Turkey also made efforts in April and May to repair the rupture in bilateral ties with the Saudi Kingdom. In January 2021, Qatar publicly reconciled with the Saudis at a very high profile summit in Al Ula. In February and March, Qatari officials held high-level meetings with the Saudis, Emiratis, and Egyptians. On August 25, a senior Qatari official delivered a personal message from the Emir to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed, and the next day Emirati Sheikh Tahnoun bin Zayed visited Qatar's Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani. In a sign of the delicate progress between Qatar and its Gulf neighbors, on September 17, the Saudi Gazette tweeted a picture of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman standing beside Qatari Emir Tamim Al Thani and Emirati Sheikh Tahnoun bin Zayed, all casually dressed, in the Egyptian resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh. 

These two camps have been mainly divided over their conflicting attitudes towards the Muslim Brotherhood since the 2010-2011 Arab Spring. Qatar and Turkey have been pro-Muslim Brotherhood, hosting and funding Muslim Brotherhood media organs, while Egypt (post-July 2013), Saudi Arabia, and the UAE have viewed the Brotherhood as a threat to domestic and regional security and stability. The two camps also viewed Iran differently. Qatar and Turkey have had important economic relationships with Iran, while Saudi Arabia and the Emiratis have viewed it as an expansionist threat. Egypt, for its part, has tried to stake a middle-ground with respect to Iran. The rivalry between these two camps has played out across the region and perhaps most visibly in the wars in Libya, Syria, and Yemen, where each camp has actively supported rival groups with material aid, manpower, and arms. While policymakers in the West focus on the Iran-Saudi rivalry, (often framed in religious terms as a Sunni-Shiʿi divide), the intra-Sunni hostility has fueled conflict across the region since the 2013 coup d'état in Egypt. What accounts for this intensive diplomatic effort to end these hostile rivalries that have riven the Sunni world over the last decade and led to competing military interventions across the region?:snip:

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Turkey on a tightrope

Turkey's outreach to the Sunni Arab world appears to be a response to its growing isolation in the Middle East, as aforementioned. It has experienced tension with Russia and Iran in Syria, Iraq, the Black Sea, and Azerbaijan.

Add to the fact they are Turks, and not Arabs.


Remember what I've said about "The Hinge Of History" and how everything is changing and in a state of chaos? Example #394.

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