News Analysis: Qatar shows solidarity with crisis-hit Turkey with financial support
Dr. Ümit ALPEREN
ISTANBUL, Aug. 22 (Xinhua) — Qatar’s recent financial support for Turkey, which includes a currency swap agreement and direct investment promise, is a strong show of economic and political unity against the United States, analysts said.
Qatar and Turkey on Friday inked the currency swap agreement “to boost trade in local currencies and support financial stability in both countries,” Turkey’s Central Bank said.
The deal came days after Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani promised 15 billion U.S. dollars of direct investment in Turkey, amid Ankara’s escalating row with Washington and a falling Turkish lira.
Umit Alperen, an analyst with the Ankara Policy Center, said Turkey has supported Qatar and helped it evade being “totally quarantined” after a Saudi Arabia-led bloc severed diplomatic ties and cut all air, land and sea links with the tiny kingdom last year over Doha’s alleged support for extremists and terror groups.
“And now, Qatar’s financial support is a kind of a continuation of that solidarity, revealing the power of their political and economic relations against the U.S.,” Alperen told Xinhua.
Al-Thani and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met in Turkish capital Ankara last week as Turkey’s economy was gravely hit by a currency crisis after Washington imposed sanctions and additional tariffs over Ankara’s continued detention of U.S. pastor Andrew Brunson over terror-related charges.
After the meeting, Al-Thani announced that Qatar would swiftly put the promised money into effect in mainly economic projects, investments and deposits in Turkey.
Doha’s cooperation with Ankara should also be regarded as essential for the diversification of financial resources of Turkey, according to Alperen.
“Previously, Turkey was referring largely to the U.S.-led financial institutions such as the IMF (International Monetary Fund) and the World Bank,” he said.
Qatar has now proved to be a country which may provide “unconditional financial support” for Turkey in tough periods of time, according to the analyst.
At the beginning of this month, the White House revved up economic pressure on Turkey by freezing the assets of Turkish Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul and Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu over their alleged roles in Brunson’s imprisonment.
The last blow hit the Turkish currency hard on Aug. 10 when U.S. President Donald Trump announced the doubling of tariffs on Turkish steel and aluminum imports, making the lira drop by more than 16 percent the same day alone.
“Qatar, by promising to invest with such a massive amount of money in Turkey, has seriously risked its relations with the United States,” Feyza Gumusluoglu, a columnist with the pro-government Yeni Safak daily, wrote on Tuesday.
“Such support will definitely not make Trump happy, as he is working hard to push Turkey into the corner,” noted Gumusluoglu.
In his view, the pledged money should be considered as very significant, though some of the details are still missing.
Qatar’s financial assistance to Turkey offers only a temporary remedy as it just helps ease pain during the crisis period, observed Alperen.
“This financial crisis shows how vulnerable Turkey’s economy is,” he said, urging the authorities to focus more on a production-based economic model.
For Cahit Armagan Dilek, head of the Ankara-based 21st Century Turkey Institute, Qatar’s pledge is symbolic.
“Turkey needs hot money and not an investment to be done in future years,” he told Xinhua.
Arguing that Qatar is more dependent on the U.S. and other Western countries than Turkey, Dilek said Doha’s move “in standing next to Ankara will not affect Washington’s future actions.”
Turkey’s worsening row with the U.S. seems not to be solved in the short run as a Turkish court has rejected an appeal for the release of Brunson from house arrest during his trial for the second time.
The next hearing of the pastor, who is accused of espionage and having links to a network led by the U.S.-based Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, is slated for Oct. 12. The two groups have been outlawed respectively for masterminding a coup plot in 2016 and fighting against the Turkish state.
The 50-year-old pastor, who has been living in Turkey for more than two decades, was detained two years ago and faces up to 35 years in prison if found guilty.
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