What a Crown Prince’s trip to Turkey tells us about the post-American Middle East

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Ankara’s meeting brings together two regional powers that have long viewed each other as ideological enemies: Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, better known as MBZ, and Turkish President Rajab Tayyip Erdogan, MBZ, which is on its first official visit to Ankara in nearly 10 years, was met with fanfare. Erdogan held a reception for the Crown Prince at the Rashtrapati Bhavan which included a cavalry procession.

Hours later, the UAE announced a $10 billion investment fund in several sectors of Turkey’s economy, including energy, climate change and trade. The move could boost Turkey’s faltering economy at a time when its years-long currency crisis has gathered momentum. The Turkish lira appreciated by nearly a single point on Wednesday after hitting a record low in recent days, as an early sign of the economic impact of the crown prince’s visit.

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The rivalry between the United Arab Emirates and Turkey has played out in some of the region’s deadliest battlefields over the past decade, reshaping the Middle East in the process. Former enemies can have a similar transformative effect.

The roots of the recent controversy go back to MBZ’s campaign to dismantle the conservative Muslim Brotherhood movement across the region. Erdogan, for his part, has been the Islamic group’s most powerful supporter.

MBZ has long been a major supporter of the Egyptian military, which overthrew the country’s first democratically elected president – ​​Muslim Brotherhood member Mohamed Morsi in the aftermath of the Arab Spring in 2014, then installed the former general. Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi as President. Sisi has presided over some of the repressive campaigns against the Muslim Brotherhood and political activists in Egypt’s modern history.
In LibyaIn his bloody bid to seize power from a UN-recognized government in Tripoli, MBZ supported renegade General Khalifa Haftar, who is affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood and backed by Erdogan.
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But since then the guns have been relatively silent on the region’s many flaws, and its key players will now have to grapple with regional instability and economies grappling with the combined effects of the pandemic. Turkey is one of the countries that has struggled to keep its economy afloat in recent years. Turkey’s strong president is hoping for a much-needed lifeline, in reviving Ankara’s ties with Abu Dhabi, and attracting many investments from the oil-rich UAE.

“(Erdogan) stayed in power because of the economy. So a weak economy before the 2023 elections is definitely something he doesn’t want.” Yusuf Erim, Turkish analyst and editor at TRT World at Large, told Granthshala. “And Emirates has the money to be able to provide a booster shot for the Turkish economy.”

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In return, Abu Dhabi could seek concessions at several regional flashpoints such as Libya, increasing the specter of a potentially game-changing quid pro quo.

Analysts say another factor fueling the apparent engagement is doubts about the US’s commitment to the Middle East. As successive US presidents focus on Asia, many prominent regional leaders are increasingly realizing they need to fend for themselves more. The UAE is intent on leading the charge in making the neighborhood safer.

The country was once dubbed Little Sparta because of a strong foreign policy, well above the size of its nearly 10 million strong (mostly foreign) population. In parallel with its campaign against the Muslim Brotherhood, it intervened in several wars over the years involving Iran’s regional paramilitary partners in countries such as Yemen, Syria and Iraq. Now it wants to be seen as the main peacemaker of the region.

“What is driving all this is a deep assessment of the UAE’s role in the region, an in-depth review of the UAE’s regional influence over the past ten years,” said Abdulkhaleq Abdullah, a retired Emirati professor of political science. , “The UAE is trying to consolidate its regional influence and from now on it is trying to project itself as a peacemaker.”

“We have had enough instability, conflicts and conflicts of interest that no one has benefited. And it is little if any benefit.”

From August 2020 onwards, UAE normalizes relations with Israel, healed a years-long political rift with gas-rich Qatar, created a series of diplomatic initiatives for territorial slavery Iran, and the decade-long diplomatic isolation of President Bashar al-Assad.
MBZ’s meeting with Erdogan is by far the most high-profile meeting between the former rivals. it follows a journey UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed – MBZ’s brother – headed to Damascus earlier this month, the first time since the Syrian conflict began in 2011. National Security Adviser Sheikh Tahnnoon bin Zayed – one of MBZ’s brothers – is reportedly set to visit Tehran this week.

Those meetings echo broader regional changes. Iraq appears to be emerging as a nexus for reconciliation in the region, namely by brokering talks between Saudi Arabia and its regional arch nemesis Iran. The scope of those talks is unclear, and the sticking points are plentiful around armed Iranian-aligned groups in Lebanon, Iraq and Yemen. Yet leaders on both sides say they are keen to avert a proxy war that has devastated large parts of the region.

Last week, Gulf Arab countries issued a joint statement supporting the revival of talks to re-enter the Iran nuclear deal. Some of those countries were among the most vocal opponents of the treaty when it was first reached in 2015.

Analysts say the main driver for Detente is an alleged disengagement by the US from the region – a claim that has been repeatedly denied by US officials.

In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Syrian President Bashar Assad is shown, right, speaking with UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan in Damascus, Syria Tuesday, November 9, 2021 Huh.  ,

At the International Institute for Strategic Studies Manama Dialogue on Saturday – a major annual security conference in Bahrain – US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said he has faced “such a level of backlash from allies that the US is not really committed to the region.” ”

“We are committed to this area. We still have thousands of troops in this area. We have significant potential here,” Austin said. “As someone who has fought here for many years defending interests in this region, I assure you that we will not give up on those interests going forward.”

But those assurances seem to be falling on deaf ears. Conference participants repeatedly checked with US officials about an apparent inaction in a region where they were once a strong interventionist force. One participant asked about the non-retaliation of last month’s explosion at a US base in al-Tanmf, Syria.

Brett McGurk, the coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa at the White House’s National Security Council, implied that the response was secret. “On these topics, you don’t always talk out loud and not every reaction is going to blow up Granthshala or something,” McGurk said in Manama on Sunday. “So, ‘we didn’t do anything’ is not correct.”

Nevertheless, regional players have decided they can no longer outsource their security to the US, which once jumped to their defense during Saddam Hussein’s 1991 invasion of Kuwait, but did nothing – Saudi oil refineries halved the kingdom’s oil production in 2019 in response to an attack – at least publicly.

Times are clearly changing.

“All of these countries are still improving their policies and preparing for less US engagement. They understand that they need to play a more active role with their neighbors,” said Turkish analyst Erim.

“Whether[the US president]is in power now, or who comes to power in 2024, there will still be many dynamics between these countries as a result of this wave of synergy and warm winds.”

Granthshala’s Jomana Karadsheh, Isil Sarius, Karim Khaddar and Mustafa Salem contributed reporting.

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Credit : www.cnn.com

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