Turkey, Iran, Qatar and Malaysia are creating an economic alliance that seeks to use gold as a way to trade and free themselves from what they claim are sanctions that target “Muslim” countries. Iran’s Press TV says the new “gold dinar” could help it beat sanctions. “Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad says Iran, Malaysia, Turkey and Qatar are considering the gold dinar and barter trade as a way of protecting themselves against any future economic sanctions,” Iran’s Press TV notes.
The meeting in Kuala Lumpur has brought together right-leaning Islamic regimes that seek to create what they see as an Islamic alliance that will work more closely together. Saudi Arabia and other countries that have hosted the Organization of Islamic Cooperation see the Malaysia meeting as seeking to undermine existing Islamic institutions.
According to Bloomberg, Malaysia’s Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamed, who is known for antisemitic speeches claiming Jews “rule the world by proxy,” pushed for a new barter system among Islamic countries. It is unclear if the system will be only for Muslim countries. Mahathir suggested that the countries consider using the “gold dinar” as a way of trade. The trade would enable them to get around US sanctions. Turkey has sought to increase trade with Iran, and Malaysia, Qatar and Turkey have worked with Iran and Hamas.
All of these countries seem to suggest that they are in need of a way to get around trade sanctions imposed by others. For instance, Qatar has been under blockade by Saudi Arabia since 2017. The US also left the Iran Deal in 2018, and has put unprecedented sanctions on Iran. The trade system might also enable these countries to get around anti-terrorism finance laws and arms embargoes. Qatar has been accused in the past of not doing enough on terrorism finance. A recent article at The Telegraph asserted that Hamas has planned attacks from Turkey. A report in Malaysia in November said that its visa-free travel has made it a “transit hub” for terrorists.
The Sun Daily in Malaysia reported that Mahathir said that the world was witnessing nations making unilateral decisions to impose punitive measures. Malaysia is one of the leading anti-Israel countries in the world. Its leader has proudly spoken of his antisemitism at recent meetings in Oxford, Cambridge and Columbia universities where he calls Jews hook nosed. Malaysia forbids travel to Israel but it sent a diplomatic mission to the Palestinians in early December. Israel prevented the delegation from visiting. Al-Monitor reports that Malaysia is becoming “Hamas gateway to Asia.” The new Turkey-Iran-Qatar-Malaysia economic alliance could also involve a barter system to benefit Hamas because currently economic support for Gaza must go through Israel. Qatar has transferred millions in aid to the Gaza Strip.
The discussions of a new economic system are part of a growing alliance between these countries. Turkey and Malaysia have suggested creating an Islamic channel. In addition recent meetings in Qatar where Turkey’s leader visited in November, the Hamas trip from Turkey to Qatar to Malaysia and Turkey and Qatar working together on the Libya crises, show a maturing alliance system. Iran is increasingly accepted and part of this Turkey-Qatar-Malaysia triangle. Questions remain over whether Pakistan will participate after Saudi Arabia pressured Pakistan not to go to Malaysia for the summit. Iran, fresh from success in Malaysia, has sent its President Hassan Rouhani to Japan.
The US Congress has threatened sanctions on Turkey, arguing its purchase of Russia’s S-400 system and its support for extremists in Syria is unacceptable. Turkey says it will retaliate against sanctions. Ankara says the US Congress is hostile. Congress has also recognized the Armenian genocide and lifted an arms embargo on Cyprus. Turkey increasingly seeks to pressure Cyprus through natural gas drilling, sending drones to Northern Cyprus and seeking to lay claim to vast sea areas around the island. The gold dinar, if it ever came into being, would enable Turkey to get around any sanctions. It may not need to because countries like Russia and China are already at loggerheads with the US on trade issues.