The blockade of Qatar by Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen is not a problem that will affect the Gulf states, North Africa and the Middle East alone. This is one of the most important and distinctive historical phases of the global crisis that we are now in. The blockade of Qatar is aimed at replacing the petro-dollar system developed in conjunction with the 1973 oil crisis in both economic and political terms, and making a new economic-political order in the region.
I wrote the following paragraph in last month's column, "The petro-dollar system is based on an agreement which the U.S. signed with the Saudi monarch in 1975 and includes the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). Accordingly, OPEC members would sell oil only on dollar basis and these petro-dollars would be diversified through the U.S. banking system in financial markets. After a while, the Saudi currency was fixed on the dollar. This agreement between Saudi Arabia and the U.S. was not only an energy game, but also a form of capital accumulation and hegemony. The petro-dollars were spent on armament and the illegal financing of politics in the Middle East and developing countries. In other words, the budgets and bribes which were called 'aid' and which were allocated to the bureaucracy and armament budgets in these countries to sustain coups and dictator regimes were the ordinary trade dynamics of the petro-dollar system. Throughout this whole process, coups and coalition governments, which could not survive more than two years, moved Turkey's parliamentary system away from being a structure that reflected the national will."
As a matter of fact, firstly, the de facto change in Turkey's system under Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's leadership and secondly the constitutional change as a result of the April 16 referendum also meant the end of the petro-dollar system in political terms. The U.S. wants to go back to the Egypt example in political terms in the entirety of this region. Also, in economic terms, it does not want the regional trade to be outside of the dollar and it wants these dollars, stemming from trade, to be invested in U.S. assets once again.
First of all, we are not in the early 1970s and a military dictatorship regime, such as that in Egypt, is a huge embarrassment for humanity both in this region and the world. Apart from this, the region and countries in it cannot be confined into an autarchic economic and financial order based on oppressive regimes like in the 1970s and 1980s.
All malicious plans against Turkey before and on July 15, 2016, and all attempts to turn Turkey into an Egypt failed, didn't they? You can slightly prolong the moribund petro-dollar system with such operations, but this will harm the perpetrators of these operations the most.
The U.S.'s greatest fear for the past 15 years has been Pacific Asian countries, especially China, making efforts to get out of the dollar-based trade cycle and reduce their U.S. bond stocks. The Gulf states have also contributed to this fear in recent years. Thinking that the relations with the U.S. would not be like it was before the post-9/11 period, Saudi Arabia began directing its investments toward areas that do not nourish the petro-dollar system. It was followed by other Gulf countries like Qatar, which is the rival of both the U.S. and Russia in natural gas production.
The majority of natural gas facilities in Qatar were established to export liquefied natural gas (LNG) to the U.S. Qatar's disruption of Russia's natural gas oligopoly and large supply of LNG has troubled Russian state-run energy company Gazprom since 2012. This is why natural gas prices are falling; Russia unveils discounts and returns billions of dollars to natural gas importing countries as stipulated by flexible contracts.
Now, Qatar supplies one-third of the world's LNG, and its exports have begun increasing in Asia after Europe. Qatar, however, was not satisfied with this and made an agreement with Iran, with which it shares the Strait of Hormuz, in order to save time and protect its advantage in LNG competition. This agreement has strengthened northern routes and Qatar's LNG trade has become the most important dynamic to disturb the petro-dollar cycle that relies on OPEC.
Behind this crisis lies the strategy of renewing the petro-dollar political and economic system, which was established with the 1973 oil crisis, in line with the conditions of the day. However, it is not possible to achieve this due to the current conditions of the Mideast region and the world. The new strategies of Pacific Asia, China and Russia, China's One Belt One Road (OBOR) project and Turkey's new constitutional system and power all make it impossible to renew this outdated system. This system, which was carried out through bloodshed, military dictatorships and civil wars in the previous century, means reactionary restoration in the whole region, and this will harm those who intend to carry it out the most.