Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) and King Salman on Thursday after arriving on his first visit in five years. He hopes to turn the page on a tumultuous period in relations between the two Middle Eastern powers.
Before leaving Turkey, Erdogan listed a number of areas in which the two countries could cooperate, including health, energy, food security, defense and finance.
Turkey and Saudi Arabia have a wealth of historical material. The Ottoman Empire left a bitter taste in the kingdom after being replaced by the Saudi ruling family. And today Erdogan’s form of political Islam is a potential poison for the MBS monarchy leadership.
He and MBS also express concern over a number of regional conflicts, including Syria, Iran, Lebanon, and Hezbollah. There is ample scope for both to benefit from the common ground.
Erdogan’s declining economy needs Saudi cash. Promises of business deals and replenishment of its declining public coffers would be welcomed. This kind of help gives the Turkish president more time in power, which is well understood by the MBS.
But the MBS that can really be used is a way for US President Joe Biden to get out of the bad books, and a reliable, indecisive, security partner.
How Erdogan fits into that will depend on what the two leaders do.
Ambiguity is the lifeblood of international relations and Erdogan has played his first card on this front.
By abandoning his demand for a Turkish trial of Saudi government agents believed to have assassinated Khashoggi – a murder the CIA reported via MBS – Erdogan effectively This symbolic stick has been set aside, which many Western leaders use to kill MBS.
There is much that Turkish leaders can bring to the table with MBS. The Saudi crown prince may want Erdogan to weaken his military ties with neighboring Qatar. The two Gulf states have recently been embroiled in a year-long dispute in which Doha invited Turkey to open a military base in the backyard of Saudi Arabia. Riyadh and Ankara also want to move to a position after the Syrian conflict that strengthens Lebanon and weakens Hezbollah and Iran – which may mean keeping Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad in power.
Such important and difficult agreements cannot be made without balancing each other’s needs at the table of MBS and Erdogan.
Chinese President Xi Jinping will visit Riyadh soon. Any new military cooperation between the two countries will come at a heavy price – not in terms of the price of the sticker, which Riyadh can easily afford, but hopefully China will support it in the future, which Saudi emerging On the wrong side of the new world order.
The Arab Spring of 2011 showed the Saudis that the United States would not come to the rescue of the royal family if a revolution took place. For over a decade, the divisiveness of American politics has reinforced the notion in Riyadh that American leaders are so intoxicated with their domestic politics that they cannot focus on foreign policy. Even if a trusted American partner appears, it is thought, that person may end up in the next election.
But it’s MBS, more than Erdogan, at a potential crossroads. Does he accept the bitterness of America’s handling of the Middle East and freeze at Biden’s hands, or does he work on a strategy of not going in the wrong direction after coming under the new Iron Curtain?
Other important news from the Middle East.
At least 42 injured in clashes between Palestinians and Israeli police at Al-Aqsa Mosque
The Palestinian Red Crescent said on Friday that at least 42 people had been injured in clashes between Palestinians and Israeli police at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. Israeli officials say they are responding to “hundreds of rioters and lawbreakers” engaged in violent riots.
- backgroundThe incident took place on the last Friday of Ramadan at the site, which is sacred to both Jews and Muslims. . Tensions have risen in the compound during Ramadan, with clashes erupting every Friday. The Red Crescent accused Israeli forces of preventing its workers from entering the compound and of “injuring and killing one of our staff.”
- Why it’s important: According to the Palestinian Red Crescent, tensions in Jerusalem have escalated since Israeli police stormed the Al-Aqsa compound earlier this month, which they called the Palestinian uprising, which has killed more than 200 people. More were injured. The violence has been experienced by the coalition government of Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, as well as provoked various diplomatic reactions from neighboring Arab states.
Yemen’s Saudi-led coalition has released 163 Houthi prisoners.
The Saudi-led coalition will release 163 Houthi prisoners fighting against the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen who fought against the kingdom, the Saudi state news agency SPA reported on Thursday. Has taken steps to secure his release. Committee of the Red Cross
- backgroundFighting has been raging in Yemen for the past seven years between the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels and the Saudi-led coalition, but a two-month ceasefire was agreed on April 2 under UN mediation. The exchange of prisoners is being discussed by both sides under the auspices of the United Nations, which could release 1,400 Houthi prisoners in exchange for 823 allied prisoners.
- Why it’s important: Saudi Arabia and other Gulf monarchies are concerned that they are undermining US interest in their security, as well as potentially excited Iran following a nuclear deal with world powers, and they have raised tensions. I have started taking steps to reduce it. Riyadh has also resumed direct talks with Iran, which supports armed proxies throughout the region, including Yemen.
Iran says it has moved centrifuge machines since the first attack on a nuclear site.
A spokesman for Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization (AEOI) told Iranian media on Friday that the reason Iran had moved key parts of its centrifuge machines to safety was a “terrorist attack” on the Karaj nuclear site.
- backgroundThe UN nuclear watchdog said on Thursday that Iran had moved its new Natanz centrifuge workshop, where it makes uranium enrichment machines, to an underground location. The machines are in a closed facility, which Tehran says was sabotaged by Israeli attacks. Iran’s Centrifuge Workshop may make spare parts necessary to advance its uranium enrichment program.
- Why it’s important: Iran has been engaged in nuclear talks with world powers in recent years, in an effort to restore the 2015 nuclear deal, which was scrapped by then-President Donald Trump in 2018. Any new nuclear activity by Iran risks complicating the talks.
Around the area
Marvel’s new “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” movie is facing a hurdle in the Middle East, where censors in some countries are reportedly having problems with one of the film’s LGBTQ characters.
The film features a two-dimensional superhero, American Chavez, a homosexual, referring to his two mothers in one scene. The country’s general supervisor of cinema ratings told the Guardian that Saudi Arabia had requested a 12-second amendment. He said that according to the paper, Disney, the parent company of Marvel, has refused to make the amendment.
IMAX theaters in Egypt announced on Twitter that the movie “will not be released” in the country, without explaining why. It was also not listed in the “Upcoming Movies” sections of theater websites in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait.
Angry fans on Twitter pointed out that the kind of content the film is being banned from is already available on streaming platforms such as Netflix, with one user calling the ban on the film “hypocrisy its best place”. Declared
Officials in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and Egypt did not respond to CNN’s request for comment. Disney did not respond to CNN’s request for comment.
Egyptian film critic Joseph Fahim says LGBTQ themes are not new to Arab audiences. “We’re used to seeing gay characters in Arab movies,” he said, referring to films such as Salah Abu Saif’s 1958 “The Bird Road” and the recent adaptation of Netflix’s “Perfect Strangers” to CNN. Told Close gay dad. As LGBTQ roles become more prominent in American cinema, Middle Eastern countries “have to adapt or find films from other cultures.”
This is not the first Marvel movie that has caused a stir among censors in the Arab world due to its LGBTQ themes. Last year, the film “Eternals” created a similar issue with LGBTQ rights that was banned in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait.
By Muhammad Abdul Bari