Washington, D.C., December 12 – A new report released today traces the rise and consolidation of the Turkish-Qatari alliance, which poses a growing threat to the interests of the United States and its allies in the Middle East and beyond. The comprehensive report by the D.C.-based Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) notes how these governments work together to shelter terror financiers, promote hateful ideology, and prop up violent extremist groups throughout the Middle East, sowing regional instability in the process. Documenting years of cooperation, the report highlights the rapid clip at which Turkish-Qatari ties have grown from 2002 to present, providing a comprehensive picture that assesses their shared Islamist outlooks and joint support for regional extremist groups, as well as military-to-military cooperation, economic aid, and trade and investment deals.
In “Brothers in Arms: The Consolidation of the Turkey-Qatar Axis,” Dr. Aykan Erdemir, Senior Fellow, and Varsha Koduvayur, Senior Research Analyst, provide an assessment of current U.S. policy towards both countries, nominally U.S. allies, and offer a detailed plan that policymakers and strategists can implement to counter the threats posed by the Turkish-Qatari partnership. “Washington has failed to hold these two countries to account over the years,” they argue, noting both states’ repeated negligence on terror finance and years of direct support for extremist groups like Hamas.
Dr. Erdemir, a former member of the Turkish parliament, said, “Turkish and Qatari leaders have become leading patrons of various Islamist movements around the world, fueling hate and prejudice against the West, and undermining efforts to strengthen secularism and minority rights in the Middle East. It is time for the U.S. and its transatlantic allies to push back against this alliance and its sectarian ideology.”
“Turkey and Qatar have formed an enduring foul-weather friendship,” said co-author Varsha Koduvayur. “Despite hosting important overseas U.S. military bases, Ankara and Doha work together in a manner that only hurts Washington and its regional interests. For too long, we have not sufficiently held these countries accountable for the major role they play in funding Hamas, in propagating extremist ideologies, and in backing a whole gamut of violent groups in Syria, Libya, and Iraq. This malign conduct will only increase the further entrenched this partnership becomes.”
“The Turkish-Qatari alliance,” notes FDD founder and president Clifford D. May, “has become not just increasingly complicated, but also increasingly threatening to core American values and interests. Dr. Erdemir and Ms. Koduvayur make this abundantly clear.”
The report recommends that Washington should use inducements and disincentives to pressure Turkey and Qatar to abandon the malign behavior that jeopardizes both states’ long-term cooperation with the U.S. It urges Washington to condition future cabinet-level dialogue with both states until they show verifiable progress on illicit finance; recommends policymakers to begin exploring basing alternatives to the U.S. bases at Incirlik, Turkey, and Al Udeid, Doha; and suggests that the U.S., along with its transatlantic allies, coordinate efforts to push back against state-sanctioned hate-speech by requiring the Turkish and Qatari state-owned media to register as foreign agents. If Turkey and Qatar do prove willing to change their behaviors and turn over a new leaf, both states could stand to benefit greatly: Washington could, among other things, establish Al Udeid as a permanent base and reinstate Turkey into the F-35 program.
The Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) is a Washington, DC-based non-partisan policy institute focusing on foreign policy and national security. Visit our website at www.fdd.org and connect with us on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.