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Turkey sees greater partnership with Qatar than is apparent

Turkey's commercial gains from its partnership with Qatar have been modest and the media fanfare over fresh bilateral accords is hard to comprehend.
DOHA, QATAR - NOVEMBER 25: Turkeys Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and Qatari counterpart Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani take part in an agreement signing ceremony, held after inter-delegation working meal with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Emir of Qatar Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani in Doha, Qatar on November 25, 2019.

  (Photo by Mustafa Kamaci/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s dreams of leadership in the Muslim world may be fading, but they are still kept alive by Turkey's ties with Qatar, which Ankara has shielded in the inter-Arab crisis in the Gulf since 2017. During Erdogan’s visit to Doha last week, the two sides signed seven cooperation accords — a welcome reminder that foreign ties should be driven by mutual interest and not threats and blackmail, which Erdogan has increasingly been using in recent times. Yet how the deals contribute to Turkey’s economic and strategic interests remains open to question, despite celebratory headlines in the pro-government media. 

The accords — signed Nov. 25 in the presence of Erdogan and Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani during the fifth meeting of the bilateral Higher Strategic Committee —- aim to boost cooperation in the fields of commerce, finance, investment, technology and urban affairs. The most significant deal is an update of last year’s currency swap agreement between the Turkish and Qatari central banks, which, according to officials, aims to “facilitate bilateral trade in respective local currencies and support the financial stability of the two countries.” Under the deal, the overall swap limit was raised to the $5 billion equivalent in the Turkish lira and Qatari riyal from $3 billion in the original version. 

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