Biden’s Presidency and Economy Boost Turkey-Saudi Arabia Rapprochement | Voice of America

ISTANBUL, TURKEY – Turkey’s relations with Saudi Arabia appear to be thawing after years of regional rivalry, with leaders of both countries pledging to improve bilateral ties. Analysts suggest that the factors leading to the progress of the ties could be economic issues, as well as the incoming presidency of Joe Biden.

“President [Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan and King Salman [bin Abdulaziz​] they agreed to support open channels of dialogue to improve bilateral relations and overcome problems, “said a statement from the Turkish presidency after the two leaders spoke by phone in early November.

The conversation between the two leaders was followed by similar warm remarks from the Turkish and Saudi Arabian Foreign Ministers who met in Niger to win a meeting of the Order of Islamic Cooperation.

“A strong partnership between Turkey and Saudi Arabia will be beneficial not only for our countries, but for the entire region,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu tweeted.

Erdogan and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman have been bitter rivals in the past, frequently exchanging outright angry statements as they pursue regional dominance.

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in a March 2020 photo.

«Saudi Arabia, and MBS [Mohammed Bin Salman] in particular, he tries to be the leader of the Arab world, “said international relations professor Huseyin Bagci from the Middle East Technical University in Ankara.

“Saudi Arabia is a close associate of the United States, and Donald Trump left them unconditionally free. Turkey was still trying to be the leader of the Arabs and the Islamic world, which Saudi Arabia was opposed to, ”Bagci said.

Observers blame this twofold rivalry for aggravating conflicts in the Middle East and the goal of Africa. But Biden’s flamboyant election win over Trump is forcing the Turks and Saudis to reassess.

«One of the impulses [del acercamiento entre Arabia Saudita y Turquía] it’s Joe Biden’s presentation, ”said former Turkish ambassador to Qatar, Mithat Rende, now a regional energy analyst. “The Saudis should be prepared for a different treatment by the Biden company, so they, and still the Turks, came to understand that this relapse of relations, this crisis in bilateral relations is not sustainable.”

Analysts still cite economic factors in driving Turkey’s rapprochement with Riyadh. “Turkey has dire economic conditions right now, and Saudi Arabia has always been a breath of life for Turkey,” Bagci said.

“In the past, they invested and brought money into the country, so Turkey is probably still trying to renew relations and make some concessions,” he added.

Riyadh is reported to have imposed an unofficial trade blockade on Turkish goods. Turkey’s Assembly of Exporters said exports to Saudi Arabia fell 16% through October this year to $ 2.23 trillion.

But Ankara looks euphoric about a breakthrough.

“We await concrete steps to solve the problems in our trade and economic relations,” Turkey’s Trade Minister Ruhsar Pekcan was quoted as saying by the newspaper. Sabah. “Our counterparts told us that there was no formal judgment on some exceptional issues.”

Dynamic change

In a possible face to Riyadh, analysts suggest that Ankara is tempering its rhetoric on the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Khashoggi’s killing internally from the Istanbul consulate of Saudi Arabia in 2018 saw Erdogan admit to a leading role in the international condemnation of Riyadh for the murder, which was widely attributed to prominent members of the Saudi regime.

A court in Istanbul is trying Saudi officials in departure for the killing of Khashoggi.

Ankara had drawn publicity to the case, until now.

Last week’s hearing generated no comment from Erdogan or anyone from his party’s top officials, and the case was postponed until March.

“Turkey has stopped making this an international problem,” observed Emre Caliskan of the University of Oxford in Great Britain. “It seems that Erdogan has toned down on the Khashoggi case; this would still be an indication that Erdogan wants to have a better relationship with Riyadh.

Saudi court issues verdicts in Khashoggi killing

Journalist Jamal Khashoggi was assassinated at the end of 2018 internally at the Saudi consulate in Turkey.

Without blockade, Ankara’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood remains a major obstacle to any restoration of Turkish-Saudi ties.

“Turkey has supported the Arab Spring and the Saudis were not happy about it. The support of the Ikhwan movement [Hermandad Musulmana]In particular, it was viewed by Saudi Arabia, Egypt and other Loafer kingdoms as a threat to their rulers and systems, ”Rende said.

Riyadh views the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist order, a designation that Ankara strongly rejects.

“I don’t think Erdogan will break his position on the Muslim Brotherhood at least in the near future because this support has a direct impact on Turkey’s policy in Libya, Syria and QatarCaliskan said.

History and pragmatism will be central to any approach, predicts Caliskan.

“We must not forget that these two countries had a very good relationship yesterday after the Arab Spring. Turkey and Saudi Arabia must be trained to work together with their different agendas and backgrounds. But when it comes to pragmatism, Erdogan is the champion of pragmatism; I am confident that Erdogan would establish a dialogue with the Saudi leadership and vice versa, “concluded Caliskan.

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