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How Erdogan Is Using Khashoggi Scandal to Leverage Turkey's Goals and Thwart the Saudis

10-24-2018
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The Trump administration is taking action against those involved in the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.

The State Department announced it's revoking the visas of 21 Saudi suspects in the case. That means they won't be able to enter the US. Mike Pompeo said that's just the beginning and further action will come when all the facts are known.  

Meanwhile, President Trump said the Saudis carried out one of "the worst cover-ups in the history of cover-ups."

As the investigation into the murder of Saudi political figure Jamal Khashoggi continues, it's becoming clear that Turkey is taking full advantage of it.

Many believe it's their way to remove the Saudi crown prince. 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan kept up the pressure on Saudi Arabia Wednesday over the Khashoggi killing, telling an international symposium in Ankara that "As a nation, we are determined not to allow the murder to be covered up and all of those responsible not to evade justice, from those who gave the order to those who executed it."

Turkey has said that a 15-member Saudi hit squad arrived in Istanbul shortly before Khashoggi's death and that a man apparently dressed in the writer's clothes, acted as a possible decoy by walking out of the consulate on the day of the journalist's disappearance. Saudi Arabia has suggested without offering evidence that the team went rogue. 

The murder has been a political gift to Erdogan. 

"As far as Erdogan is concerned, he will use this incident to try and get as much mileage and concessions out of it to the advantage of Turkey, as he possibly can," said Maha Yahya, director the Carnegie Middle East Centre. 

Saudi Arabia and Turkey's relationship has gone downhill with the ascendance of Saudi Arabia's heir apparent Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman.  Erodgan sees this as the golden opportunity to get rid of the crown prince, who sides with some of Turkey's regional enemies.

"Today's speech was part of a very careful, in my opinion, escalation strategy," said Ahmet Kaism Han, Turkish international relations analyst. "The removing Mohammed bin Salman who is consciously and continuously pursuing strategies that work against Turkey, Turkish and Turkey's allies' interests can be an ultimate goal."

And judging from the high level attendees who cancelled for this week's investment forum in Riyadh, the damage to the Saudi's image from the Khashoggi killing is now starting to bite. 

"Mohammad bin Salman's image as a potential reformer has gone down the drain," explained Serhat Guvenc, Turkish international relations analyst. "Therefore, he is not going to be able to sell this soft power aspect of his personality."

Turkey needs Saudi Arabian investment badly, so it cannot go after the crown prince to strongly or publicly.  But it still wants him out. 

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