Turkey ‘s substantial military support for Islamist rebels in Libya may not be connected to any common agenda, but rather is a direct product of Qatar ‘s post-Arab spring links to a Libyan Islamist who has just met the right people in Doha.
Last week, Turkey-Qatar relations were under attack in pro-government newspapers in Turkey, blaming Qatar’s Al Jazeera English for its critical reporting of Ankara’s offensive in northeastern Syria.
David Roberts, lecturer at King’s College London and author of the book “Qatar: Securing a City-State ‘s Global Ambitions,” sees this as a non-issue, as Al Jazeera continues to make its own editorial choices and ties between Turkey and Qatar are so good. Their relations date back to Ottoman times, but the present relationship is much younger.
Why Interfering with Libya?
“With the Arab spring, the unusually close relationship between Turkey and Qatar started,” Roberts told Ahval in a podcast.” Both are quite comfortable with different degrees of involvement with actors on the Islamist spectrum. Turkey may be a lot more like that, but Qatar is fine with those actors.
Once a coalition of regional states led by Saudi Arabia put a boycott on Qatar in mid-2017, owing primarily to its backing from Islamist groups, Turkey stepped in to assist.
Supporting terrorism in Libya
“We certainly saw Turkish troops arriving within the first few days of the blockade. Very visibly-defense diplomacy at its finest”. Roberts said, pointing out that the Turkish military training contingent in Qatar. At the time was rapidly expanding to become a Turkish military base.
Qatar returned the favor in August 2018. Bailing out the struggling Turkish economy with some $15 billion in spending. As well as a $500 million luxurious private jet from Qatari to its “boss” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
The Turkey-Qatar exchange soared nearly 80 percent that year. Relationships went from strength to strength and Qatar turned to Turkey for help with its population of only 300,000 people.
“Qatar may not have enough people to get there and has to leverage relations anywhere it can,” Roberts stated.
“Turkey has been a key foreign-policy player with and on behalf of Qatar”. He said, referring to Libya, Syria and Somalia. “It was the Turks who had the foreign service equipment. The knowledge and the know-how. And so the two worked hand in hand in glove in these different foreign fields.”