Skip to main content

GCC's silence on Turkey’s Afrin adventure is telling

The Sunni Gulf states have failed to make a unified statement on Turkey's Operation Olive Branch in Syria, a sign of their competing interests.
A Turkish military tank is seen near Mount Barsaya, northeast of Afrin, Syria January 23, 2018. REUTERS/Khalil Ashawi - RC17EC8A27B0

Since the launch of Turkey's Operation Olive Branch into northwestern Syria on Jan. 20, the Sunni Gulf Arab states have yet to issue a unified response — with most not responding at all — signaling how the various players in the Arab world view Turkey's projection of hard power through fundamentally different lenses. In turn, although Turkey’s leadership is keen on improving commercial, defense, investment and trade ties with the wealthy sheikdoms of the Arabian Peninsula, there is also a growing perception in Ankara that certain elements within the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) are working with Egypt to undermine Turkish national security.

A spokeswoman for Qatar’s Foreign Ministry, Lolwa al-Khater, said that Doha fully supports Turkey’s campaign to protect its “national security in the wake of the breaches and terrorist attacks carried out inside Turkish territories.” Khater emphasized that the operation in northern Syria is “driven by legitimate concerns related to its national security and securing its borders, as well as protecting the territorial integrity of Syria from the danger of secession.” The Qatari daily Al-Watan published an article titled “Erdogan: Olive Branch to Defeat Terrorists,” accompanied by a picture of Syrians waving a banner expressing support for the Turkish campaign against “terror.”

Access the Middle East news and analysis you can trust

Join our community of Middle East readers to experience all of Al-Monitor, including 24/7 news, analyses, memos, reports and newsletters.


Only $100 per year.