Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on June 13 criticised several Arab countries for economically and politically isolating Qatar, branding their actions as inhumane and un-Islamic.
“It is neither humane nor Islamic to totally isolate a country’s people,” Erdogan told a gathering of lawmakers from his ruling Justice and Development Party in Ankara.
He was referring to last week’s decision by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt to cut diplomatic ties with Qatar, which is accused of supporting “terrorism”, destabilising the region and having close ties with Iran.
As reported by Deutsche Welle (DW), Germany’s international broadcaster, an embargo also cut off food, transport and other links between the four countries and Qatar, which typically imports around 80% of its food from its neighbours.
Qatar denies allegations that it supports terrorism and has vowed not to give up its independent foreign policy.
Erdogan dubbed the Saudi-led actions as tantamount to a “death penalty” imposed on Qatar, which he said was the target of a defamation campaign.
The crisis has put Turkey in a difficult position as it views Qatar as one of its chief allies in the region, but Ankara also seeks to avoid damaging relations with Saudi Arabia and other Arab states.
Erdogan called on Saudi Arabia’s king as the leader of the region to resolve the impasse.
“Resolving this crisis as soon as possible is in the interest of all nations and people,” Erdogan said.
According to DW, underpinning Turkey’s stance on Qatar are strong investment ties, cooperation in Syria’s civil war and the sharing of similar views on political Islam, most notably on Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, which the Gulf monarchies and Egypt oppose.
Erdogan also said Qatar had fostered stability and was a key factor in fighting the so-called Islamic State.
“Without the support of Turkey and Qatar it would not be possible for Syria to push back Daesh (the Arabic acronym of Islamic State),” Erdogan said, referring to Ankara and Doha’s backing of some of the same Syrian rebel groups.
Qatar is also home to the forward headquarters of US Central Command, which leads US military action against IS in Iraq and Syria.