Losers club in the gulf

UAE and Saudi Arabia come first among the losers of the crisis. Bin Salman and bin Zayid duo, the architects of the crisis, could not enable Qatar to pursue a foreign policy dependent on their own axis. continued to Qatar’s Al-Jazeera channel, which broadcast elements of soft power, Turkey also closed its military base in Qatar. Trump is the second loser of the crisis.


On 5 June 2017, the embargo against Qatar initiated by the countries led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) ended on January 5, 2021, after 3.5 years. This step, seen as a positive development regarding Gulf politics and the future of the Gulf Cooperation Council, was registered with the agreement signed by the Gulf summit in the city of al-Ula, Saudi Arabia.

The voltage is not over

It is not clear yet how the al-Ula agreement signed between the Gulf countries will affect the regional power balances. The consensus reached in al-Ula does not change the different views of the actors in the Gulf on regional issues and thus does not end the climate of regional instability and tension. In this sense, the agreement reached at the 41st Gulf summit can be considered as a step taken for the preparation of Joe Biden to come to the presidency and for the Gulf to be the only front in the fight against Iran and to repair the economic damage brought about by the coronavirus. The question of how the reconciliation reached in Al-Ula will be reflected in conflict zones such as Libya, Yemen and Syria and which actors won and which actors lost with the end of the crisis are a matter of curiosity.

Conflict areas: Libya, Yemen, Syria

It would be too optimistic to expect that the end of the Gulf crisis will have a positive impact on the balances in conflict zones in the short term. As a matter of fact, the Gulf crisis has yet to be resolved on paper and the Saudi Arabia-UAE axis has not brought relations with Qatar exactly in line. As long as the political elite of the Saudi-UAE axis (the bin Salman-bin Zayid line) remains in power and ideological differences persist, it is unlikely that embargoed countries and Qatar will follow a foreign policy in the same line. In this sense, the end of the Gulf crisis in Libya, the tension between Syria and the civil war-like atmosphere in the region is dominated by the Saudi-Yemeni different policies followed by the UAE and Qatar-Turkey axis axis can be expected to direct positive impact.

Moreover, the resolution of the Gulf crisis does not mean that the Saudi-UAE axis approves of Qatar’s role as a mediator in the region. The end of the crisis, Saudi Arabia-Qatar relations have been positively conversion, Qatar, Saudi-UAE axis between Turkey and reduces the possibility of making a mediator role. Therefore, the solution to the crisis is unlikely to radically alter the policies of the Saudi-UAE axis, which supports Haftar in Libya, the Assad regime in Syria financially, ideologically and politically and destabilizes Yemen, and thus the regional power balances. Although Libyan politicians consider the Saudi-UAE axis to resolve the Gulf crisis as an optimistic development in the context of Libya, the long-term investments of the UAE and Saudi Arabia in the putschist Haftar prevent the axis from choosing to support the United Nations-backed political process. On the other hand, although the Gulf crisis has officially ended, the crown prince duo responsible for the crisis (Mohammed bin Salman in Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Zayid in the UAE) retains their seats in power. In addition, the UAE’s not participating in the al-Ula summit at the crown level indicates a difference between the UAE-Saud axis regarding the resolution of the crisis. Therefore, both personal political ambitions and ideological differences have not disappeared yet. As a result, it can be said that the possibility of the end of the Gulf crisis to radically change the power equation in the conflict zones is quite difficult in the short term.

They lost

Although it is still difficult to make such a determination and it is early in terms of time, it is possible to list three actors among the losers of the crisis. UAE and Saudi Arabia come first among the losers of the crisis. Following the UAE in a sense, Saudi Arabia has pioneered the end of the crisis by hosting the al-Ula summit. Bin Salman and bin Zayid, the architects of the artificial / artificial Gulf crisis that started on June 5, 2017, could not ensure Qatar to pursue a dependent foreign policy on their own, and failed in this sense. The UAE-Saud axis could not implement the 13 items they requested from Qatar. Qatar’s diplomatic moves and stability, Turkey and Iran’s support for multidimensional BAE-Saudi axis has revealed that they have lost in the crisis. In this sense, he continued to Qatar’s Al-Jazeera channel, which broadcast elements of soft power, Turkey also closed its military base in Qatar. Therefore, the most obvious loser of the crisis is the UAE-Saud axis. The second loser of the crisis is US President Donald Trump. The USA could not produce a single policy on the crisis. In this sense, Trump implied that Qatar financed terrorism in the early stages of the crisis and expressed that he supported the embargo against Qatar. However, the establishment in the USA did not support Trump’s impulsive statements. Moreover, Trump’s self-appointed foreign minister Rex Tillerson did not support the artificial crisis of embargoed countries. This tension between Trump and Tillerson is not the first. Trump has previously dismissed many ministers.

Crisis means arms sales

A similar process was experienced in Tillerson. According to an article by Alex Emmons on The Intercept, Tillerson was forced to resign by Trump because he opposed the Saudi-UAE axis plan to invade Qatar and the embargo. Although Trump fired Tillerson and replaced him with Pompeo, the crisis did not go the way Trump wanted. Therefore, with the end of the crisis, the second name of the club of losers was Donald Trump, who lost the chair to Joe Biden. Although Trump’s son-in-law and advisor Kushner took part in the al-Ula summit that ended the Gulf crisis, it is known that the Trump administration did not play a “mediator” role in the crisis. Although Trump aims to continue the crisis and to make money by selling more weapons to the parties of the crisis, both the presidential seat and the end of the crisis show that Trump has lost. It is possible to mention Iran among the losers of the crisis. The Tehran administration has increased its influence in Qatar and Gulf politics thanks to the crisis. However, with the end of the crisis, it is unlikely that Qatar will get closer to Iran as in the crisis period. As a matter of fact, the speech bin Salman made at the al-Ula summit emphasized the Iranian threat and implied that they were uncomfortable with Qatar’s rapprochement with Iran. Therefore, one of the important reasons behind the end of the crisis is Qatar’s convergence with Iran. With the end of the crisis, the possibility of Iran turning the conflicts arising from the disagreements in the Gulf into power projections and opportunities has decreased. Saudi Arabia wants Iran’s influence on Qatar and the rapprochement between the two actors by ending the crisis. It can be said that Iran lost with the end of the crisis.

Qatar’s victory

If it is difficult to rank the winners of the crisis, it can be said that Qatar has emerged victorious from the crisis. As a matter of fact, although Qatar embargoed countries closed their land, air and sea transportation and freezed diplomatic relations, the relationship with regional and global actors during the crisis, and especially thanks to lobbying activities in Washington, came out of the crisis with minimum damage and maximum benefit. Many analysts stated that the crisis strengthened Qatar, and economic data confirmed these claims. The Doha administration has not bowed to the 13-item list of embargoing actors and once again demonstrated its determination to pursue relatively independent foreign policy in the Gulf. Among the other winners of the crisis, it can be claimed that countries such as Jordan, Morocco, and Pakistan are stuck between the Saudi-UAE axis and Qatar. In this sense, the Saudi-UAE axis, which instrumentalized the financial power, was putting pressure on the mentioned countries to terminate their relations with Qatar. With the end of the crisis, countries such as Jordan, Morocco, and Pakistan are getting rid of the dilemma between the Saudi-UAE axis and Qatar.

Ankara’s achievements

Finally, Turkey is among the countries most obvious winners of the crisis. Turkey did not attend the embargo policy of the UAE-Saudi axis. Turkey assuming a mediating role in the first phase of the crisis, Saudi-UAE axis of Turkey’s 13-point list of demands in the targeting of direct military base in Qatar that has seen a move against Turkey. In this context, Turkey, Qatar, Saudi-UAE axis by the occupation against the background of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey has deployed troops to permit removing Qatar. In addition, the Ankara administration has played a critical role for the survival of the Doha administration by providing military, security, diplomatic and food aid to Qatar. Therefore, an end to the crisis, Turkey has successfully implemented the use of military hard power elements needed for acquisitions and the termination of the crisis reveals that Ankara has achieved. In addition, Turkey, the UAE-Saudi axis of the figure stood resolutely against the destabilizing policies and has been very successful in this policy. As a matter of fact, the statements made by King Salman of Saudi Arabia and the steps he took after Biden’s victory were read as signals that the relations would soften. The end of the Gulf crisis, Saudi Arabia will reduce the dose of the anti-Turkey policies and could be seen as a sign of ending in the medium term.

As a result, the Gulf summit held in al-Ula, Saudi Arabia on January 5, 2021 reveals that the Gulf crisis that started on June 5, 2017 has ended on paper. As a matter of fact, although the architects of the crisis (bin Salman-bin Zayid) line are still controlling the government, the fact that the Saudi-UAE axis and Qatar have different ideological and strategic projections show that the crisis has been solved out of formality. Therefore, it is unlikely that the resolution of the crisis will reflect positively on conflict areas such as Syria, Yemen and Libya in the short term and radically change the regional power balances. However, the end of the crisis Trump, that the BAE-Saudi axis and Iran loses power, Qatar and Turkey indicate that the economy is gaining strength. On the other hand, for countries such as Jordan, Morocco, and Pakistan, which are subjected to pressure from the Saudi-UAE axis, the resolution of the crisis may cause the stricture in their foreign policies to end and increase their maneuvering areas.

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