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Friday, 09 November 2018 15:23

Turkish-Saudi Rivalry: Behind the Khashoggi Affair Featured


Behind the Khashoggi Affair


The conflict between Turkey and Saudi Arabia is about more than just geopolitics. It’s about ideology—and survival.


On November 2, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan took to the op-ed page of the Washington Post to insist that more pressure be put on Saudi Arabia to answer lingering questions about the death of Jamal Khashoggi. Erdoğan’s op-ed is symptomatic of the way his government has maneuvered to gain maximum benefit from the Khashoggi case. Erdoğan hits several important points: He emphasizes that Turkey is a “responsible member of the international community” and a NATO ally, and refers to Khashoggi as a “kind soul” and “honorable man.” He claims Turkey has “moved heaven and earth” to get to the truth of the case, and has shared evidence with the U.S. government to make sure others “keep asking the same questions.” Most importantly, Erdoğan writes that he does not believe “for a second” that the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques—that is, King Salman—would have ordered the murder. 

Read full article at the American Interest





Deconstructing these arguments tells us a great deal about Turkey’s interests in the case. Rarely in the past several years has the embattled Turkish President been able to wear a robe of righteousness in leading Western media. Now, given the intense media interest in the Khashoggi affair, the Turkish President sees a chance to present his country in a positive light. It is hard to blame him for seizing that opportunity, given that Turkey faces more than $200 billion of debt coming due after its currency lost almost half of its value in the past year. Ankara has no alternative to striking a deal with the IMF, which will require a rapid improvement of Turkey’s relations with Western powers.
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