Erdogan Visits Saudi Arabia After Transferring Khashoggi Case
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will travel to Saudi Arabia on Thursday, marking a turnaround in relations that hit a low following the 2018 murder of a prominent Saudi critic at the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul.
Turkey and Saudi Arabia have been working on a rapprochement for months, part of a broader realignment that’s seen regional rivals heal rifts and step back from conflicts since President Joe Biden took office.
Turkey last week ended its trial over the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi and transferred the case to Saudi Arabia, removing a key obstacle to improved ties before Erdogan’s visit.
The trip to Saudi Arabia is part of a broader effort to mend relations with Persian Gulf countries after years of hostility fuelled by Erdogan’s support for Islamist groups in the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings.
Erdogan’s office did not say whether he would meet with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, whose reputation was tarnished by the murder, carried out by Saudi agents. A US intelligence assessment concluded that he had likely ordered the operation. The prince has denied any involvement, though he’s said he accepts responsibility for the killing as Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler.
“Turkey and Saudi Arabia will seek to develop all aspects of relations between the two countries during the visit and exchange views on regional and international issues,” Erdogan’s office said in a statement.
Erdogan’s also looking to bolster trade and lure investment from oil exporters as Turkey’s own floundering economy costs him support with the approach of the 2023 elections.
A warming of relations with the United Arab Emirates last year has already unlocked billions of dollars’ worth of potential business.
The UAE signed a $4,9 billion currency swap with Turkey in January, offering Turkey’s beleaguered currency much-needed support. The Emirates have outlined plans for a $10 billion fund to support investments as it seeks to at least double bilateral trade.
Erdogan will be looking for similar gains from a reinvigorated relationship with Saudi Arabia. BM