Erdogan’s Slow Evisceration of Saudi Global Standing

Anadolu Agency/Anadolu

Key paragraphs in new Times piece on Erdogan’s handling of the Khashoggi crisis …

Mr. Erdogan has long publicly treated the crown prince as a respected ally to maintain good relations with Saudi Arabia, an important regional power. But it was an open secret that the two men were bitter rivals in a feud over Arab democracy and political Islam that has divided the region.

Evidently sensing Saudi weakness after the skeptical reception that greeted the latest claims from the kingdom, Mr. Erdogan over the last two days has gone on the attack.

Mr. Erdogan has promised to reveal a truth “in full nakedness” in a political speech on Tuesday. A political ally close to him said the Turkish president planned to ask pointed questions implicitly or indirectly blaming the royal court for the killing.

But the same ally tamped down expectations, saying Mr. Erdogan does not intend to disclose the specific evidence other officials have cited. Some of that evidence may have been obtained through audio surveillance of the consulate in violation of international agreements. Mr. Erdogan is instead expected to postpone further revelations pending a report on the case by a Turkish prosecutor.

But he remains determined to try to assign the blame for the killing to the upper reaches of the Saudi royal court, as close as possible to the crown prince, the ally said. Turkey also sees an added benefit to deferring full disclosure: It could prolong international attention to the mystery of Mr. Khashoggi’s fate, compounding the damage to the prince’s reputation.

Mr. Erdogan, the person close to him said, recounted that a Saudi envoy, Prince Khaled bin Faisal, had offered a package of inducements for Turkey to drop the case — including financial aid and investments to help Turkey’s struggling economy, and an end to a Saudi embargo on Qatar, a Turkish ally. Mr. Erdogan has told associates that he angrily rejected the offer as “a political bribe,” this person said.

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