Relations with UAE can be anchor for stability in Middle East

With the visit of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to the UAE, a new page was opened in the relations between the two countries. In the coming period, "normalization" steps in foreign policy are expected to continue in the Gulf countries and the Middle East.

After the meeting between the delegations led by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, bilateral agreements were signed.

13 agreements were signed between Turkey and the United Arab Emirates in the fields of defense industry, health, climate change, industry, technology, culture, agriculture, trade, economy, maritime transport, youth, disaster management, meteorology, communication and archives.

“WE STARTED A NEW ERA IN TURKEY-UAE RELATIONSHIP”

Visit traffic between Turkey and the UAE gained momentum in the summer of 2021. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan first received UAE National Security Advisor Sheikh Tahnoun Bin Zayed Al Nahyan on August 18, and held a phone conversation with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan on August 31.

With Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan's visit to Ankara on November 24, a new page was opened in Turkey-UAE relations. After the meeting, 10 important agreements were signed between the two countries. Mohamed Hasan Al Suwaidi, Chairman of Abu Dhabi Development Holding, said, "The United Arab Emirates has allocated a fund of 10 billion dollars to invest in Turkey."

President Erdoğan, who was welcomed with magnificent ceremonies in the capital Abu Dhabi, met with business people and investors. In his statement at the meeting, he said, "We have started a new era in the Turkey-BEA relationship. Our common goal is to move our bilateral relations to a much higher level in every field."

Erdogan also said, "The UAE provides a suitable investment environment for advanced technology companies. Turkey, on the other hand, is leading new developments with its dynamic population."

INDUSTRY AND TECHNOLOGY DIPLOMACY IS STRENGTHENING

With the agreement in the field of industry and technology signed between Turkey and the UAE, cooperation in many fields from aviation to automotive, from steel to chemistry and petrochemistry was opened.

So, how will Turkey and the UAE's defense industry relations progress?

The defense relations between Turkey and the UAE showed themselves mostly on armored land platforms. The ARMA vehicle developed by Otokar was exported to the UAE under a contract worth 661 million USD under the name Rabdan. In addition, at the beginning of the 2000s, a small number of armored vehicles called COBRA, also produced by Otokar, were exported to the UAE. Again by the FNSS company, 136 armored combat vehicles were exported to the UAE at the end of the 90s. The contract value in open sources is $75 million.

There is a very high potential in the defense industry between the two countries. First of all, the United Arab Emirates is a country that has always supplied its defense from abroad throughout its history. However, the UAE has recently placed emphasis on technology transfer and joint production. In this direction, Turkey can be a good partner for the UAE.

ASELSAN, Roketsan and BAYKAR companies have great potential in the UAE. Surface-to-ground missiles such as Roketsan's TRG-122, TRG-230, TRG-300 and even KHAN may be preferred by the UAE.

It was noteworthy that Haluk Bayraktar, CEO of Baykar Defense, the developer of Bayraktar TB2 SİHAs, was also present during President Erdogan's visit to Dubai. The UAE had a chance to observe the performance of Turkish SİHAs in Libya. Perhaps an export agreement with these platforms can be concluded soon.

POSSIBLE RETURNS OF VISIT

Although their differing visions on regional issues led to political crises, the economic relations between Turkey and the UAE continued to progress without any serious injury in this process. The fact that the bilateral trade volume, which was around 10 billion dollars in 2013, remained around 8 billion dollars in 2021 despite all the political crises and the Covid-19 epidemic, shows that the political tensions in the relations between the two countries are not reflected in the economic field.

The most important factor that encourages Turkey and the UAE to raise the level of relations is the expectations and risks faced by both actors in the field of economy. Close cooperation with Turkey, the largest economy in the Middle East region, will offer unique opportunities for the UAE, which has difficulties in competing with regional actors such as Saudi Arabia, which challenges its status as the economic and commercial capital of the region. The change in the security architecture of the Gulf in recent years and the security gaps in the region make the close relations with Turkey valuable for the UAE. As a matter of fact, the recent Yemeni attacks against the UAE have seriously damaged the country's image.

After nine years, President Erdogan's visit to the UAE and the warm messages given during this visit will have important results at home and abroad. First of all, this visit should be read as a strong sign of a meaningful change in the line that Turkish foreign policy has followed for more than ten years. This visit is also very important as it shows that Turkey is willing to normalize its relations with the important countries of the region such as Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. The strong cooperation established between Turkey and the UAE can provide unique economic advantages to both actors, as well as make Turkey an important actor in the newly formed Gulf security architecture.

This normalization process, which started with the UAE, is expected to continue with countries such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt in the coming period. Meanwhile, the rapprochement that started in Turkey-Israel relations continues. In addition to these countries, the exploratory talks with Greece and the mutual steps taken with Armenia are also seen as a part of this process.