Global repercussions of Qatar blockade

Published 09.06.2017 23:39
Updated 10.06.2017 11:28

The diplomatic rift initiated by seven Arab countries, led by Saudi Arabia, and the implantation of a land, sea and air blockade has only worked to accentuate existing tensions in the region. It is in everyone's interest that the initiatives led by Turkey, the term president of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), and that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's intense diplomatic efforts succeed. Having said that, there are a couple of issues weighing on my mind. Can it be a coincidence that such a serious diplomatic crisis broke out just 48 hours after the hostile emails of the United Arab Emirates' (UAE) Washington ambassador to Qatar and Turkey were leaked in addition to China confirming its support for Iran's full membership to Shanghai Cooperation Organization, opening the door for it to be discussed between members at Astana?

There are 51 trillion cubic meters of natural gas in the South Pars Gas Field, shared by Qatar and Iran. This means that in terms of energy income for the other countries in the Gulf, the hands of Qatar and Iran will be strengthened in a global economy increasingly leaning toward natural gas. Approximately 40 percent of Iran's supply, which includes the second-largest natural gas reserve in the world, is located in this field. Compared to Iran's 14.2 trillion cubic meters, Qatar's share is 25.4 trillion cubic meters in the field, which makes up 99 percent of the country's reserves. As a result, Qatar currently has the world's third-largest natural gas reserve after Russia and Iran. In other words, a large-scale energy game is being played out for China's Silk Road Initiative, and the fact that Iran owns such a valuable reserve means its dominance in the region will rise beyond what the U.S. and Saudi Arabia find acceptable. China, on the other hand, is struggling with meeting its own energy needs.

New equation in the global energy game

All these developments create opportunities that can strengthen Turkey, which has already clinched its role in becoming an oasis for economic and political stability in the region. Moreover, we play a critical intermediary role for the Gulf countries. As a result, Turkey's soothing and inclusive role might hinder some of the predicted outcomes expected in the region. It should be noted that within the first 24 hours of the Qatar crisis, Daesh carried out its first terrorist attack in Iran and Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif was in Ankara that day. Zarif indicated that worrisome developments are brewing in the region and that his country needed to stay in close contact with Turkey regarding these events. That same day, a bill was passed at the plenary of Parliament in Ankara between Turkey and Qatar on deploying Turkish forces to Qatar. And let's not forget that Qatar requested water and food aid from Turkey and Iran as well.

The energy strategy of the U.S., which switched in the spring of 2013, means that the country will make the transition from being a net energy importer to an exporter through a production revolution based on shale gas and shale oil. Meeting more than 60 percent of its daily oil needs through imports, the country now aims to decrease that ratio to 11 percent by 2020. Thus, the U.S. will both meets its own energy needs with domestic resources while selling oil and natural gas to the world. For the most success, the U.S.'s rivals in the global energy market must weaken over the next term. Looking to fill energy gaps, every trouble in the global energy market will benefit the U.S. If the Qatar crisis endangers the oil and natural gas production of the Gulf countries and the roles of energy players like Iran and Russia in the market, plenty of room will be left for the U.S. to step in. Therefore, the Gulf crisis and the turmoil it caused in the region will affect Iran, China, and Russia, and might have implications distressing the balance in the global energy game. In a related side note, the U.S. exported its first liquefied natural gas to Poland this past week.

This crisis will yield regional and global consequences affecting civilian air transport, energy competition, oil prices, in addition to Qatar's food stock, human resources and the construction sector, especially regarding projects like the 2022 FIFA World Cup. China's Silk Road Initiative will have outcomes pounding the south corridor through Pakistan, Iran and the Persian Gulf. One final point is that 180,000 Egyptians work in Qatar in engineering, medicine and construction. If Egypt joins the embargo and Egyptian workers leave Qatar one by one, the loss in the workforce could cause problems for local and international companies doing business in the country. At this point, Qatar can ask for Turkey's help, not only for food and water, but also to fill their white and blue collar workforce.

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