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Erdogan meets Crown Prince as Turkey and Saudi Arabia try to move on from Khashoggi murder

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has met Saudi King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman in Jeddah. Erdogan landed in Saudi Arabia …

Erdogan meets Crown Prince as Turkey and Saudi Arabia try to move on from Khashoggi murder
29.04.2022 15:25
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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has met Saudi King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman in Jeddah.

Erdogan landed in Saudi Arabia on Thursday evening in a major reset of relations between two regional heavyweights following the slaying of a Saudi columnist in Istanbul.

The visit marks the latest in Ankara’s bridge-building efforts with its key regional rival.

It is also Erdogan’s first visit to the kingdom since 2017, the year before the murder in Turkey of journalist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi agents.

Erdogan was greeted at the airport in the Red Sea city of Jeddah by the Mecca governor.

Earlier this month, Turkey dropped the trial of 26 Saudis suspected of involvement in the killing of Khashoggi, who’d written columns critical of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for The Washington Post.

The move was largely seen as a gesture that paved the way for Erdogan’s trip to Saudi Arabia.

Erdogan said his talks in Jeddah would focus on ways to increase cooperation but also discuss regional and international developments.

Turkey’s diplomatic drive coincides with the country’s worst economic crisis in two decades. Ankara has also taken steps to improve relations with Egypt and Israel.

Official inflation in Turkey stands at a staggering 61% while the lira tumbled 44% in value against the dollar last year. The flagging economy threatens Erdogan’s grip on power with elections due next year.

Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, is enjoying a bumper economic year and has capital to invest in Turkey.

The kingdom is also seeking to broaden its alliances at a time when relations between Riyadh and Washington are strained. The crown prince has yet to hold a direct call with President Joe Biden since he took office over a year ago.

Big name Western investors and politicians stayed away from Riyadh in the aftermath of Khashoggi’s murder, although some have since returned to do business.

The Washington Post’s billionaire owner, Jeff Bezos, commissioned an investigation that concluded his phone was hacked after receiving a message from the crown prince, although many questions remain unanswered.

Turkish authorities fanned the global outrage and suspicion directed at Prince Mohammed. While never naming Prince Mohammed, Erdogan said the operation that killed Khashoggi was ordered by the “highest levels” of the Saudi government.

Khashoggi had entered the consulate in October 2018 by appointment to obtain papers to allow him to wed his Turkish fiancée, who waited for him outside. He never emerged and his body was never found.

Turkey had a case open against 26 Saudi suspects in absentia, but three weeks to the day before Erdogan was set to land in Saudi Arabia, the Turkish prosecutor pulled the plug on the case by transferring it to the kingdom, which had already held its own widely-criticized trial.

No officials overseeing the operation were ever convicted.

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