Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday expressed disapproval of the sanctions on Qatar in the wake of several Arab countries severing diplomatic relations with Doha.
“I want to clearly say that we disapprove of the sanctions on Qatar,” Erdogan said as he addressed a fast-breaking iftar dinner organised by his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in the capital Ankara.
Erdogan rejected accusations against Qatar over support of terrorism.
“I do not approve of Qatar being seen as terror suspect. If this were the case, I would be the first president to take a stand against [Qatar],” Erdogan said.
The Turkish president stated that the sanctions against Qatar were “a game”.
“Here a different game is played,” Erdogan said. “We have not yet been able to find out who is behind this game.”
Turkey is a key ally of Qatar and is setting up a military base in the country which also hosts the largest US air base in the Middle East.
A Saudi-led group of countries accuse Qatar of harbouring and supporting Islamic fundamentalist organisations like the Islamic State (IS), al-Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood.
Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Yemen and the Maldives decided to cut ties with Qatar on 5 June.
Commentators pointed out that the links between Qatar and the Muslim Brotherhood may be at the heart of the conflict. Turkey has offered a safe haven for Brotherhood leaders driven out of their own countries, including Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
Qatar was among the top nations investing in Turkey in 2016 with over $20bn invested. Turkish companies are handling projects worth about $11.6bn in Qatar, most of which is put into Qatar hosted Fifa World Cup 2022 projects.