As news came that Saudi Arabia and six other countries had cut ties with Qatar, I called an acquaintance who retired from the Qatari foreign service. The next year, Turkey’s ambassador to Qatar, Ahmet Demirok, said his country would maintain 3,000 troops at the base. This story was first reported by the Iraqi journalist Haidar Sumeri on June 6.
The overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohammed Morsi in 2013, the abdication of the former emir in Qatar, the 2014 Israeli war against Hamas in Gaza, the defeat of the Turkish-Qatari proxies in Libya and the gradual isolation of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood suggested to both Qatar and Turkey that closer cooperation and coordination was necessary.The Military Cooperation Agreement came at the end of this slow process of the defeat for the Qatari-Turkish agenda in West Asia and North Africa.The Qatari diplomat was the one to alert me in late 2015 to the increasingly close ties between Turkey and Qatar.He suggested both countries feared that their regional agenda was close to being vanquished.Saudi Arabia had cemented its ties with the new leader of Egypt, General Sisi, and its allies in Libya and Syria seemed to have the wind in their sails.The death of the old Saudi monarch in 2015 led to the ascension of the new king, Salman, who shortly thereafter confidently went to war against the poorest Arab state, Yemen.It was hoped that this military intervention in Yemen would result in a quick victory for Saudi Arabia, cementing its domination of the region.If Saudi Arabia had attained its goals in Yemen, then it would truly have sent a message to its enemies, Qatar and Turkey, as well as Iran. The Russians intervened in Syria in 2015 and the West conducted a nuclear deal with Iran that same year. Iran’s confidence returned and the Syrian war appeared to now move in the direction of the government of Bashar al-Assad and his Russian as well as Iranian partners.Saudi Arabia’s economy tanked and there was now talk of major restructuring of its oil industry. By the close of 2015, the Saudi agenda appeared to be in disarray while Qatar and Turkey appeared to be fearful of the Saudis.Turkey, badly battered by its miscalculation in Syria, began to rely on Qatar’s natural gas revenue to stabilize its economy and leaned on Qatar to open discussions with Russia.Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, went to the United States, brought more weapons and attempted to forge a new kind of Arab NATO against both Iran and the patrons of the Muslim Brotherhood, namely Turkey and Qatar.