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In Saudi Arabia, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia - Will Meet with Erdogan

 The Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia is visiting Ankara and is expected to meet with President Erdogan, continuing efforts to rekindle bilateral relations.


Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is expected in Turkey today for his first official visit to the country after nine years of strained bilateral relations, which began with the Arab Spring and worsened after the assassination of a journalist in Istanbul.


"God willing, we will see how far relations between Turkey and Saudi Arabia can go," Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday, confirming the de facto visit of the Saudi king's leader to Ankara.


According to the Athenian and Macedonian News Agency, the first act of reconciliation between the two countries took place in late April: President Erdogan went to Saudi Arabia where he discussed with the successor prince ways to "develop" bilateral relations.


Three weeks earlier, Turkish justice had decided to close the case of the murder of Saudi Arabian Jamal Kasogi, a Washington Post journalist, who was murdered and his body dismembered in October 2018 at his country's consulate in Istanbul.


Ankara sent the case to the Saudi authorities, paving the way for rapprochement with Riyadh.


The second act will be played today: Mohammed bin Salman will meet with Erdogan after a tour of the region that started on Monday from Egypt.


His schedule is not yet known, but many agreements are expected to be signed between the two men, a senior Turkish official said.


"As a beggar"

"This is one of the most important visits to Ankara in almost a decade," said Soner Tsagaptai of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.


He noted that the Riyadh-Ankara conflict began in 2013, when Erdogan had backed Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, a black sheep for Saudi Arabia, against General al-Sisi, who led his party.


At the same time, the blockade imposed by Saudi Arabia in 2014 on Qatar, an ally of Turkey, which lasted until 2017, and then the Kasogi affair, worsened relations between the two countries.


At the time, the Turkish president had accused "the highest-ranking members of the Saudi government" of ordering the assassination.


But less than a year before the mid-June 2023 presidential election, and at a time when inflation is severely affecting Turkish purchasing power, Erdogan is stepping up his efforts to normalize relations with major regional powers: Saudi Arabia, Israel and the United Arab Emirates.


"Erdogan has swallowed his pride a little. "He has only one thing on his mind: to win the upcoming elections," Chagaptai said, adding that the Turkish president, who went to the Emirates in mid-February, was "desperately trying to attract investment from the Gulf."


After two decades in power in Turkey, Erdogan is facing the collapse of the Turkish lira (-44% against the dollar in 2021 and -23% from January 1) and an inflation that reached 73.55% on an annual basis in May, raising doubts about his re-election.


"You referred the case (Kasogi) to Saudi Arabia in exchange for money, like a beggar," Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the leader of the main opposition party, complained on Tuesday.


Iran

For Mohammed bin Salman, the visit marks the lifting of an informal embargo imposed on him by the West: US President Joe Baden, who will travel to the Middle East for the first time since taking office in mid-July, plans to visit Saudi Arabia as well. Arabia to meet with the Crown Prince.


"One of the main motivations for Saudi Arabia is to create a Sunni front, which will include Turkey, to counter Iran's influence in the region," said Gonul Toll, director of the Middle East Institute's Turkey program. of Washington.


But, according to her, "this approach will not allow solving the big economic problems" of Turkey.


"Furthermore, Mohammed bin Salman will not easily forget Turkey's stance on the Kasogi case," she said.


"At that time he was trying to promote an image of a reformer in the country and on the international stage. "But with the Kasogi case, Turkey dealt a severe blow to this image."


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