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Erdogan heads to Gulf

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.

Erdogan is expected to arrive in Saudi Arabia’s port city of Jeddah on Sunday for a meeting with King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, according to his office. Qatar’s isolation against Islamic values, says Turkey

He will then depart for Kuwait – the main mediator in the Gulf crisis – and later Qatar.

Turkey has stood firmly by Qatar since Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt cut ties and imposed air, sea and land blockade on Doha last month.

They also issued a list of 13 demands that included closure of a newly-opened 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.

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.

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.

The UAE was Turkey’s seventh-largest export market last year, worth $5.4 billion, while Saudi Arabia was No. 11 and Egypt was No. 13, according to official data. Turkey also wants to sell defense equipment to the Saudis.

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