Sisi’s coup in Egypt was bound to have consequences for Egypt’s relationship with its neighbours, but not everyone could have guessed the thaw it caused over Saudi-Turkey relations. Whilst democratic Turkey supported the democratically elected Morsi, Saudi Arabia preferred a country stable from the threat of volatility which follows revolutions.
The last year saw colossal issues emerge which overshadowed the Egyptian coup and lead to President Erdoğan meeting King Salman four times in the last year. Each meeting brought both countries closer; from a Saudi-Turkey lead Muslim army to defeat ISIS to the recent formation of a “strategic cooperation council” in the last meeting.
At the end of President Erdoğan’s trip, King Salman ordered that the doors of the Holy Kaaba be opened for the President to pray inside. He also went on to visit the Prophet’s mosque in Madinah.
ISIS’s domination over anti-Assad rebels such as Jaysh-al-Islam, who are supported by Turkey and Saudi, lead to both countries stepping up their effort against ISIS. Both Turkey and Saudi agreed not to support the US-backed Kurdish rebels who are affiliated with PKK, a terrorist organisation in Turkey.
Turkey’s relationship with Russia ruptured when a Russian bomber was shot down after entering Turkish airspace leading Saudi Arabia to make energy deals with Turkey – the same deals which Russia had cut off from Turkey as economic punishment.
Is Assad the Elephant in the Room?
The bombing by Russia, the killings by ISIS, the Kurds and Iranian malitia are nothing compared to the elephant in the room – Syria’s Assad. Having killed 250,000 people by the most conservative counts, nothing has budged his hold on power due to Iranian and Russian backing and has given him a clean ticket for genocide. Even the UN seems crippled to persecute Assad for using illegal chemical weapons and the indiscriminate torture, rape and killing of the Syrian people.
“You cannot go anywhere by supporting a regime that has mercilessly killed 400,000 innocent people with conventional and chemical weapons.”
– President Tayyip Erdoğan
The formation of a 34 country coalition to tackle terrorism is expected to lead to larger cooperation between Muslim nations. Although it remains unclear if Pakistan is in or out with conflicting reports of pledged support as well as statements rejecting involvement.
This is part may be due to a large Shi’ite population in Pakistan, as well as the fact it borders Iran. A thorn in the side of any government decision, Pakistani opposition party PTI has taken a stance against the recent unity of Muslim countries in the operation against Yemeni Houthis.
Why is Turkey and Saudi Closeness so Interesting?
The recently formed “strategic cooperation council” between Turkey and Saudi Arabia will see cooperation between both nations for not only security, military but also economy, trade, energy and investment. This will prevent any effort by Russia to hurt Turkey economically.
The closeness between these countries also indicates an a end to heavy US influence over relations between Muslim countries in the previous years. While maintaining closeness to US, both Turkey and Saudi Arabia have taken major decisions without any US involvement.
With such close ties emerging, it would appear that the Muslim world has started to unite for peace. What does the future hold? Will peace finally be achieved through these steps? Can the Syria conflict be resolved? Only time will tell – but I’d love to hear what you think so add a comment below.