Sunday, October 28, 2018

"How Turkey is playing Saudi Arabia"

As noted in an aside from Oct. 22's "The Biggest Winners In The Mediterranean Energy War":
Speaking of difficult relations, the wannabe sultan in Ankara seems to be making a few moves all at once. If he can depose MbS in Saudia he might be able to go back to pre-1744 empire. He seems to think that he'll end up with all of Cyprus and he's playing the EU for serious money....
From MacLeans Magazine, October 26:

Adnan R. Khan reports from Istanbul on why Turkey is turning up the pressure on its stronger Middle East rival over the killing of Jamal Khashoggi
Saudi Arabia is changing its story again. After a dramatic month of denials and excuses in the face of mounting evidence, the Saudi chief prosecutor admitted yesterday that Jamal Khashoggi’s murder inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul was premeditated and not, as the earlier story went, an accidental outcome of an interrogation gone horribly wrong. It was the fourth time the Saudis have changed their story.

Khashoggi, a dissident journalist living in the U.S., was lured into the consulate on Oct. 2 after being promised he would receive documents he needed so he could marry his Turkish fiancée. He never came out alive. Turkish authorities claim Khashoggi was killed shortly after entering the consulate in a planned operation involving at least 15 Saudis flown into Turkey specifically to carry out the mission, including a forensics expert. His body was allegedly cut up with a bone saw and has yet to be found.

The latest shift in the Saudi version of events comes amid a flurry of back channel meetings between U.S. and Turkish officials, including a visit to Turkey by CIA director Gina Haspel this week where she reportedly listened to a recording Turkish officials say they possess of the murder, which they claim proves it was never an accident.

As the international pressure mounts, the Saudi line appears now to be drawing closer to the Turkish version of events. On Oct. 23, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, addressing members of his AK Party in Ankara, laid out the details of the killing for the first time, rejecting Saudi claims that it was accidental and demanding the accused be extradited to Turkey to face justice.

Later the same day in Washington, Donald Trump echoed his Turkish counterpart’s accusations, calling the Saudi handling of the case, the “worst cover-up ever.”

But there is still a wide gap between public statements and what’s happening behind closed doors. According to one AK Party official, who spoke to Maclean’s on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the media, the Turkish strategy has been to gradually turn up the pressure on the Saudis and in the process, extract concessions over other issues the country faces.

“No one wants a complete breakdown in relations,” he says. “Saudi Arabia is an important country in the Middle East. Turkey cannot pick a fight with the Saudis when Turkey’s economy is so weak. We cannot make more enemies when we are so deeply involved in Syria, when we are trying to manage the crisis with Iran. There are many considerations.”...MUCH MORE