UAE ruler meets Turkey’s Erdogan for the first time in a decade
The de facto ruler of the United Arab Emirates has arrived in Turkey for the first time in nearly a decade, heralding a thaw in one of the region’s most difficult relationships and increasing value of the Turkish lira.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, crown prince of Abu Dhabi, was greeted by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and a marching band as he arrived at the presidential palace in Ankara, where the two leaders are expected to discuss investment and regional politics.
The lira, which on Tuesday lost almost 12 percent of its value against the dollar amid growing concerns about Erdogan’s economic management, has recovered as much as 10 percent as markets welcomed the prospect of an investment. Emirati’s investment in Turkey at a time when the West was scarce.
Sinem Cengiz, an analyst on Turkish-Gulf relations, described the meeting as a watershed moment for the region’s geopolitics. “The visit represents a turning point in Turkey-UAE relations after a decades-long enmity,” she said.
The two nations have been on opposite sides in conflicts and jockeying for influence across the region since popular uprisings rocked the Arab world in 2011, and fierce rivalry between them. they have reverberated from the oil-rich Gulf to the Horn of Africa and the conflict in Libya. .
The talks between Erdogan and Sheikh Mohammed, one of the most influential leaders of the Arab world, are yet another sign of the expected de-escalation in the Middle East as US President Joe Biden’s election and the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic. prompted regional leaders to recalibrate their foreign policies.
The UAE is shifting its focus to economic diplomacy as it seeks to spur a post-pandemic recovery, while Erdogan wants to mend relations with regional rivals in the face of strained relations with Western powers. West.
“Both countries have realized that after 10 years neither side has hit the mark directly and it’s time to back out,” said Abdulkhaleq Abdulla, a political science professor in Dubai.
The Turkish authorities hope the high-level visit will play a role in boosting the investment of the United Arab Emirates in their country. “Investors in the UAE will be promoted by improving political relations,” a Turkish official said.
The two countries are expected to sign a series of agreements to invest in energy, technology and health as well as ports and logistics, according to Turkish news agency TRT. The governor of Turkey’s central bank is also meeting with officials from the Emirate of Saudi Arabia to discuss the possibility of reaching a swap deal to increase the country’s foreign currency reserves, Reuters news agency reported. this.
Analysts warn that many of the fundamental issues at the core of their dispute remain unresolved. Relations became strained when Turkey and its Gulf ally Qatar supported the Arab uprisings in 2011. The autocratic monarchies in the UAE and their main ally, Saudi Arabia, sees the revolutions as a threat to the stability of the region and to its own power.
Abu Dhabi and Ankara support opposing sides in the civil war in Libya, and UAE officials have opposed what they see as Turkish interference in Arab affairs.
When Saudi Arabia and the UAE led a trade and travel embargo against Qatar in 2017, Turkey accelerated the deployment of troops to a military base in Doha in a show of strong support. strong against its closest Arab ally. However, tensions began to ease after Saudi Arabia moved to lift its boycott of Qatar at the beginning of the year.
In the months since, Turkey has sought access to Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Israel as well as the UAE. Trade and investment have declined over the past decade as tensions increase between Turkey and the UAE. “The main theme of this approach is the economy: realism prevails over idealism,” says Cengiz.