Saudi Arabia–Turkey relations

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Saudi Arabian–Turkish relations
Map indicating locations of Saudi Arabia and Turkey

Saudi Arabia


Saudi Arabia and Turkey enjoy a friendly and strong economic relationship,[1] but have a tense and unstable diplomatic and political relationship. Saudi Arabia has an embassy in Ankara and a consulate–general in Istanbul, and Turkey has an embassy in Riyadh and a consulate–general in Jeddah. Both countries are members of the World Trade Organization and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.

According to a 2013 Pew global opinion poll, Turks hold the most negative view of Saudi Arabia out of any surveyed Muslim country, with 26% expressing a favourable view and 53% expressing an unfavourable view.[2]


The Hashimite rulers of the Hejaz pledged allegiance to the Ottoman Sultan in 1517 following the Ottoman conquest of Egypt, placing the holy cities of Mecca and Medina under Ottoman Protection until the Arab revolt in 1916 when Sharif Hussayn of Mecca expelled them with the aid of Britain. Also, the Ottomans had conflicts with House of Saud, the first Saudi state which resulted to the Ottoman–Wahhabi war. Many Saudi leaders were executed in Istanbul or killed during the war.

Modern history[edit]

Relations between Turkey and Saudi Arabia began in 1932, after the creation of the new Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

In October 2014, Saudi Arabia successfully campaigned against a Turkish bid for non-permanent membership of the United Nations Security Council, due to Saudi opposition to the Turkish stance on the Muslim Brotherhood.[3]

Due to the 2017 Qatar diplomatic crisis, the relationship between Turkey and Saudi Arabia faces problems, with Turkey supporting Qatar against Saudi Arabia in the ongoing diplomatic dispute.

World Pensions Council's M. Nicolas J. Firzli has argued that the Turkish government has sought to use the crisis to its own advantage, by advancing an expansionist Neo-Ottoman agenda at the expense of the Gulf Cooperation Council:[4]

Turkey and a resurgent Iran for their part are cynically using the festering crisis to advance a distinct agenda: rebuilding military and economic beachheads along the ‘eastern flank’ of the Arabian Peninsula from Oman to Southern Iraq, a part of the world from which they were forced out by the Royal Navy in 1917, precisely one hundred years ago. The local chess board is getting crowded with too many avid players, at a time when many British and American policy makers seem to have lost interest in that part of the world: this doesn’t bode well for the long-term stability of the MENA.

Saudi Arabia, in response, has threatened to impose sanctions against Turkey, and has conducted discussions with the UAE on the topic of curbing “Turkish expansionist policy”. In turn, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan accused Saudi Arabia of being non-Islamic and heretics. Furthermore, Turkey has deployed troops to defend the government of Qatar from an attempted coup by Saudi Arabia and the UAE.[5]

On 1 March 2018, Saudi Arabia's MBC channels stopped broadcasting Turkish soap operas dubbed in Arabic to achieve the highest Arab interest.[6]

In March 2018, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman referred to Turkey as part of a "triangle of evil" alongside Iran and Muslim Brotherhood.[7][8]

In August 2018, Turkey backed Saudi Arabia in its dispute with Canada, rejecting the Canadian actions as a "form of interference in other countries’ internal affairs".[9]

On 2 October 2018, Saudi journalist and The Washington Post writer Jamal Khashoggi was killed in the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul. It has been widely alleged that he was killed by the Saudi government, including by Erdogan, although he has refrained from criticizing Saudi Arabia directly and has instead suggested the blame lies with Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.[10][11]

After the incident, Prince Mohammad rejected the concept of a rift with Turkey, stating, "Many are trying to … drive a wedge between Saudi Arabia and Turkey. … They will not be able to do it as long as there is a King Salman, a Mohammad bin Salman and a President Erdogan."[12]

Almost a month after Khashoggi’s death, Erdogan directly accused the Saudi government of murdering the journalist. Erdogan said, "We know that the order to kill Khashoggi came from the highest levels of the Saudi government." He also said that "the puppet masters behind Khashoggi's killing" would be exposed.[13] Yasin Aktay, a top Turkish official and adviser to Erdogan believes Khashoggi’s body was dissolved in acid after being dismembered. He said, "The reason they dismembered Khashoggi's body was to dissolve his remains more easily. Now we see that they did not only dismember his body but also vaporised it.”[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Saudi Arabia/Turkey: Turkish Trade Minister commends Saudi-Turkish relations International Islamic News Agency, 8 February 2010
  2. ^ Saudi Arabia’s Image Falters among Middle East Neighbors Pew Research Global Attitudes Project
  3. ^ "TURKEY LOSES U.N. SECURITY COUNCIL SEAT IN HUGE UPSET". Newsweek. 16 October 2014.
  4. ^ Firzli, M. Nicolas (17 June 2017). "The Qatar Crisis and the Eastern Flank of the Arab World". Retrieved 18 July 2017 – via Al Sharq Al Awsat
  5. ^ Şafak, Yeni (3 August 2019). "Saudi, UAE coup attempt in Qatar foiled by Turkey". Yeni Şafak.
  6. ^ "MBC stops all Turkish TV drama".
  7. ^ "Iran dismisses Saudi talk of 'triangle of evil' as 'childish'". Al-Monitor. 8 March 2018.
  8. ^ "Saudi prince says Turkey part of 'triangle of evil': Egyptian media". Reuters. 7 March 2018.
  9. ^ "Turkish, Saudi foreign ministers discuss ties". Anadolu Agency. 10 August 2018.
  10. ^ Weise, Zia (26 October 2018). "Erdoğan's risky Saudi strategy". POLITICO.
  11. ^ editor, Patrick Wintour Diplomatic (23 October 2018). "Erdoğan's Khashoggi speech poses tough questions for Bin Salman" – via maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  12. ^ "MBS chats with Erdogan as Khashoggi leaks flow". Al-Monitor. 24 October 2018.
  13. ^ "Khashoggi murder: Turkish leader blames Saudi state directly". BBC News. Retrieved 3 November 2018.
  14. ^ "Khashoggi murder: Body 'dissolved in acid'". BBC News. Retrieved 2 November 2018.

External links[edit]