ISTANBUL/ANKARA (Reuters) – Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan heads to the Gulf this weekend in an attempt to patch up the rift between Qatar and its neighbors, but the firm Qatari ally may find himself with little room to maneuver as a mediator.
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt cut ties and imposed sanctions on Qatar last month, accusing it of supporting terrorism. Doha denies the charges.
In what has become the region’s worst diplomatic crisis in years, the neighbors have since issued more than a dozen demands, telling Qatar to close down Al Jazeera television, curb relations with Iran and shutter a Turkish military base.
Erdogan has said the demands are unlawful and has called for an end to the crisis, citing the need for Muslim solidarity and strong trade ties in the region.
“We will work until the end for the solution of the dispute between the brotherly nations of the region,” he said in comments after prayers on Friday. “Political problems are temporary, whereas economic ties are permanent, and I expect the investors from Gulf countries to choose long-term ties.”
While looking to defend Doha, Erdogan is also wary of alienating its neighbors. He will visit Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar during the two-day trip that starts on Sunday.