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Leaders of Many Countries Have Visited the Gulf Countries One After Another, Not Just for “Energy Diplomacy”

On July 17 local time, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrived in Saudi Arabia and started his visit to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar. Prior to this, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida had just concluded his visit to Saudi Arabia and arrived in the UAE. He will also visit Qatar later, while Indian Prime Minister Modi also visited the UAE last week. Why do leaders of many countries visit the Gulf countries one after another?

Under the background of the “tide of reconciliation” in the Middle East, countries find more opportunities for cooperation and development

Since China successfully facilitated the dialogue between Saudi Arabia and Iran in Beijing and the restoration of diplomatic relations in March this year, there has been a wave of “reconciliation” in the Middle East. Seeking peace, seeking development, and promoting unity have become the general consensus of Middle Eastern countries. Relations between Turkey, a major country in the region, and the Gulf countries have also been further improved.

△On June 10, local time, UAE President Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan visited Turkey and discussed advancing bilateral comprehensive economic partnership with Turkish President Erdogan. (Photo source: Arab News Agency)

Erdogan’s visit to the three Gulf countries is his first visit to the Middle East since he won re-election in the presidential election in May. The purpose is also very simple – to attract investment and boost the economy. In the past three years, Turkey’s local currency, the lira, has depreciated by 67% against the US dollar. Last year, Turkey’s inflation level once exceeded 85%, reaching the highest level in 24 years. In order to alleviate the impact of long-term inflation and weak currency, Turkey urgently needs to introduce foreign investment, and the capital-rich Gulf countries have become Erdogan’s important targets.

Previously, the Gulf countries have helped them ease the ongoing foreign exchange crisis through currency swaps or depositing funds directly into Turkish government accounts. So far, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar have each signed currency swap agreements with Turkey, totaling about $20 billion. And Saudi Arabia deposited $5 billion with Turkey’s central bank in March. After Erdogan won re-election, the UAE and Turkey signed a trade deal worth up to $40 billion over the next five years.

△On July 17, local time, Erdogan presented a Turkish-made electric car to Saudi Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman. (Photo source: Anadolu News Agency, Türkiye)

On the 17th, Erdogan met with Saudi Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman and attended the Saudi-Turkey Business Forum. The two countries signed a number of memorandums of understanding in the fields of energy, investment and defense. Analysis generally believes that investment and economic and trade cooperation will also be the main topics of Erdogan’s visits to Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

Importance of Gulf oil-producing countries highlighted after Russia-Ukraine conflict

With the outbreak of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, the global energy supply is facing a serious threat. For countries that are highly dependent on energy imports, the importance of the Gulf oil-producing countries has become increasingly prominent. Fumio Kishida’s visit this time is his first visit to the Middle East since he became the Prime Minister of Japan. His primary goal is to obtain a stable energy supply and ensure Japan’s energy security. In 2022, 93% of Japan’s total crude oil imports will come from the Middle East, of which 42% will come from Saudi Arabia and 34% from the UAE. At the beginning of 2023, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar accounted for 80% of Japan’s total crude oil imports.

△On July 16, local time, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida arrived in Jeddah, a city on the western coast of Saudi Arabia, starting his first trip to the Middle East since he became prime minister. (Photo source: Satong News Agency)

In recent years, countries such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have been committed to getting rid of their dependence on oil, and have proposed the goal of achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2060 and 2050, respectively. Therefore, Fumio Kishida made decarbonization technology cooperation the main “selling point” of this trip, in exchange for the energy supply needed for Japan’s development. Kishida Fumio held talks with Saudi Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman and UAE President Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan on the 16th and 17th respectively to provide hydrogen and ammonia to the two countries. Consensus on carbon technologies and a series of agreements to develop clean hydrogen, produce ammonia and renewable fuels. The Saudi Ministry of Energy also issued a statement saying that Saudi Arabia will guarantee oil supplies to Japan.

Regarding Japan’s expectation that the Gulf oil-producing countries will play a role in increasing oil production and stabilizing oil prices, analysts pointed out that due to the global inflation caused by excessive currency issuance, the Gulf oil-producing countries have to take measures to balance oil prices to maintain their own fiscal balance. The United States has repeatedly put pressure on the oil price issue, but the Gulf countries will not easily make concessions in the short term.

△On July 17, local time, UAE President Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan met with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida. (Photo source: Arab News Agency)

The strategic autonomy of the Middle East countries is enhanced, and they are actively exploring diversified development

The Middle East has long been one of the most complex regions in global geopolitics. In recent years, based on the pursuit of peace and development, more and more countries in the Middle East have been increasing their strategic autonomy. It has become a thing of the past for the United States to rely on power politics and hegemony to dominate the Middle East.

In order to expand their independent strategic space, many countries in the Middle East are actively exploring diversified development. Saudi Arabia’s “Vision 2030” is committed to promoting economic transformation and diversification through investment and reform. The UAE has strengthened and consolidated its position as an important commercial and financial logistics center in the Middle East by continuously optimizing its business environment. On the 15th, during Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the United Arab Emirates, the central banks of the two countries reached an agreement to agree to conduct cross-border settlement in their national currencies, namely dirhams and rupees, to replace the current settlement method in US dollars.

△On July 15, local time, UAE President Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan met with visiting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. (Photo source: Arab News Agency)

At the same time, in the field of defense, Middle Eastern countries are also seeking localization of products and diversification of supply in order to get rid of dependence on the United States. On the 18th, Saudi Defense Minister Khalid bin Salman stated on social media that Saudi Arabia and Turkey’s largest drone manufacturer signed two drone purchase contracts to enhance the combat readiness of its armed forces and defense manufacturing capabilities. In addition, the two countries also signed a defense cooperation plan.

△On July 17, local time, Turkish President Erdogan and Saudi Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman witnessed the signing of multiple cooperation agreements between the two countries. (Photo source: Anadolu News Agency, Türkiye)

There are various indications that the frequent visits by heads of state to the Gulf countries is not only the result of the increased strategic autonomy of the countries in the Middle East, but also shows that development has become a common demand of regional countries. This will not only help the unity and self-improvement of the Arab world, but also promote the development of multipolarity in the world.

Source : Baidu