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Erdogan and Saudi Crown Prince Embrace as Years of Ranc...

Business Maverick

Business Maverick

Erdogan and Saudi Crown Prince Embrace as Years of Rancor End

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman disembarks off his aircraft upon arrival at Queen Alia International Airport on the southern outskirts of Jordan's capital Amman on June 21, 2022. Photographer: Khalil Mazraawi/AFP/Getty Images
By Bloomberg
22 Jun 2022 1

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan used a lavish reception in Ankara on Wednesday to turn the page on years of rancor that had brought trade and diplomatic ties to a virtual standstill.

Erdogan welcomed the crown prince with full military honors as blue-uniformed presidential guards on horseback carried the flags of both countries. The two leaders smiled and embraced ahead of the national anthems.

Prince Mohammed’s visit is the first by the de facto Saudi ruler since the 2018 killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, who had criticized the prince’s policies, at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul severely strained ties between the two regional powers.

Back then, Erdogan’s aides appeared to revel in releasing gory details of how Saudi agents had dismembered Khashoggi, putting the heir to the throne under immense international pressure. In the US, Joe Biden vowed during his election campaign to turn the world’s biggest oil exporter into a pariah.

Times have changed. Biden will make his first visit to Saudi Arabia next month as the Russian invasion of Ukraine pushes up gasoline prices at home. And as Turkey struggles with a weak currency and inflation above 70%, Erdogan’s also stepped up his efforts to rebuild ties with the kingdom and draw investment ahead of presidential and parliamentary elections next year.

Two Turkish officials involved in talks with the Saudis said Ankara is seeking to secure a currency swap deal, akin to several that Turkey has implemented with other countries in recent years. It’s one of several options being discussed to secure foreign inflows from the world’s biggest oil exporter, which is flush with cash from high oil prices. A deal could ease pressure on Turkey’s battered currency and help the government cope with the rising cost of energy imports.

Turkey Seeks Currency Swap Deal During Saudi Prince’s Visit

Separately Turkish companies have complained of an unofficial boycott of the country’s goods after shipments to Saudi Arabia slumped in late 2020. Last year, Turkish exports were just over $200 million, down from around $3.2 billion in 2019, according to official Turkish data.

Erdogan wants that trade back. A rapprochement with the United Arab Emirates last year has unlocked billions of dollars worth of potential business, something Turkey hopes to emulate with Saudi Arabia.

The UAE signed a $4.9 billion currency swap with Turkey in January, offering Turkey’s beleaguered currency much-needed support. The Gulf state has also outlined plans for a $10 billion fund to support investments as it seeks to at least double bilateral trade.

Erdogan Invites Saudi Crown Prince as Turkey Seeks Investment

In a bid to turn the page on a particularly fraught period in bilateral relations, a Turkish court ended its investigation into the Khashoggi murder in April and turned the case over Saudi authorities.

The veteran Turkish leader followed up with a relatively low-key visit to the kingdom. He will welcome Prince Mohammed with full ceremony around 4:30 p.m. (1:30 GMT) before holding bilateral talks and an official banquet later in the day.

Prince Mohammed has denied involvement in the killing, while saying he accepts symbolic responsibility as the country’s de facto ruler.

A rapprochement would be a significant step in a broader realignment that’s taken place in the Middle East since Biden entered the White House.

Even before the Khashoggi crisis, Turkey was at odds with Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt over its support of the Muslim Brotherhood, a pan-Islamist political movement seen by many Arab governments as a threat to the ruling order. The split over the role of political Islam has shaped regional politics for the past decade, and helped fuel conflicts in Libya, Syria and beyond since the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings.

Saudi Prince Seals $7.7 Billion in Egypt Deals at Start of Tour

Regional Tour

Turkey is the final leg of a Middle East tour that took the Saudi crown prince to Egypt and Jordan, promoting his role as a regional power-broker ahead of Biden’s visit.

Saudi Arabia signed almost $8 billion in deals on Tuesday with Egypt, a major wheat importer whose finances have been strained by elevated global grain and fuel prices and the accompanying rise in interest rates. Saudi Arabia has already deposited billions of dollars in Egypt’s central bank to shore up reserves after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and said it would lead Gulf efforts to invest over $30 billion in the country.


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All Comments 1

  • So it seems that mutual business interests are the real peacemaker. I can just see the capitalists gloating. Even Biden is succumbing to the pull…

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