Turkey and Qatar leaders meet in Ankara

Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Qatar's Emir Tamim al-Thani hold talks in Ankara
2 min read
15 January, 2018
Turkey's President Erdogan and Qatar's Emir Tamim al-Thani held talks in Ankara on Monday, as the UAE accused Doha of intercepting two passenger flights.
Emir Thani met with President Erdogan in Ankara on Monday [Anadolu]

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan held surprise talks with Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani in Ankara on Monday, as tensions between Doha and its Gulf neighbours resurfaced.

Erdogan hosted the Gulf leader at his presidential palace in the Turkish capital with no previous announcements made until the day of the emir's visit.

Turkey has been a key backer of Qatar since the Gulf state was blockaded by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain in June.

Qatar has warmly welcomed the support offered by Erdogan, while Turkish exporters have benefited from the new Gulf market.

The four Arab states accused Doha of backing extremist groups and being too closely allied to Iran, issuing a list of 13 demands to end the blockade.

Among them was the shuttering of a Turkish military base in the peninsular. Qatar and Turkey have also held joint military excercises.

Analysts believe that the real reason for the embargo is Doha's alleged support for the Muslim Brotherhood, a movement connected to Erdogan's Justice and Development Party.

The latest meeting came at a critical time for Qatar.

On Monday, the UAE accused Qatar fighter jets of "intercepting" two Emirati passenger planes en route to Bahrain.  

Qatar has strongly denied the claims which follow complaints to the UN from Doha that Emirati fighter jets entered its air space in December and January.

Read also: Reaching for the skies: Making Gulf airspace a virtual battleground tarnishes Middle East aviation industry

Erdogan has strongly denounced the sanctions against Doha and sent cargo ships laden with food to the besieged emirate when Saudi Arabia closed Qatar's only land borders and other Gulf states ended flights and shipping routes to the country.

Qatar and Turkey have worked closely on key regional issues, including supporting the Syrian opposition.

Turkey has been keen to retain cordial ties with Saudi Arabia, although its relationship with the UAE has been more rocky.

A highly publicised spat between the two countries erupted last month after UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan retweeted a post critical of the former Ottoman rulers of the region.

Ankara in response renamed the street in the Turkish capital where the UAE embassy is located after the Ottoman governor of the time.

Agencies contributed to this story.