As Saudi Arabia looks to boycott goods from Turkey, another strain has been added to the relations between the two, which date long back and have alternated over the course of history.
Crux of the Matter
Call For Boycott
Saudi Arabian Chambers of Commerce (CoC) recently called for a boycott of Turkish products. The CoC is a non-government group of prominent “business officials”.
While the Saudi Government has claimed that no restriction has been placed on Turkish goods, the CoC has officially announced the boycott.
A boycott of everything Turkish, be it imports, investment or tourism, is the responsibility of every Saudi ‘trader and consumer’.Ajlan al-Ajlan, Head of Chambers of Commerce, Saudi Arabia
Reason For Boycott
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan recently took an indirect dig at Saudi Arabia. In his statement, Erdogan claimed that:
It should not be forgotten that the countries in question did not exist yesterday, and probably will not exist tomorrow. But we will continue to fly our flag in this geography forever with the permission of Allah.Recep Tayyip Erdogan, President, Turkey
- 1818: Ottomans captured the first Saudi state, and Saudi King Abdullah bin Saud was beheaded outside the Hagia Sophia mosque.
- Saudi was later ruled by the Rashidi dynasty which was backed by the Ottoman Empire (formed by Turkish tribes).
- 1903: War erupted between the Saud and the Rashidi dynasties. Saudis won the war and gained the control of central al-Qassim region.
- Britain backed Saudis during World War I, who then defeated the Ottomans.
- 1932: The official Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was formed. In the same year, an official relationship was established between the two.
- Turkey held better ties with the West than the Arabs and brought secular reforms. In 1949, Turkey became the first Muslim majority country to have official relationships with Israel. Turkey also became part of NATO in 1951, becoming the only Middle East country to do so.
- 1969: Relations improved after Turkey joined the Organization of Islamic States (OIC). However, they deteriorated soon as Saudi backed Syria in its conflict with Turkey in the 1980s.
Saudi-Turkey Ties In 21st Century
- 2003: US invaded Iraq as part of “war on terror” following 9/11 attacks. As a consequence, Saudi and Turkey developed better ties in anticipation of growth of Iran, their mutual rival, in the region.
- 2006: King Abdullah became the first Saudi leader to visit Turkey since 1966.
- Relations weakened between the two as Mohamed Morsi became the President of Egypt in 2012. Morsi was associated with the Muslim Brotherhood, which is an Islamic group advocating a return to the way of life as prescribed in the Qur’an. Turkey backed the Muslim Brotherhood while Saudi Arabia opposed it.
- Further deterioration as military coup occurred in Egypt in 2013. Turkey provided refuge to the Muslim Brotherhood members while Saudi provided funds to the military leaders.
- 2014: Turkey failed to win a UN Security Council non-permanent seat, were Saudi voted against Turkey in the process.
In the same year, a Civil war started in Libya, in which Saudi and Turkey again took opposing sides. Saudi backs the rebel Libyan National Army (LNA) while Turkey backs the UN-appointed Government of National Accord (GNA).
- 2017: Saudi, UAE, etc cut ties with Qatar for its support of Iran and reported funding of terrorism. In reply, Turkey increased food supply and economic aid to Qatar in reportedly open defiance of Saudi Arabia.
- March 2018: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman described Turkey as part of a “triangle of evil” along with “Iran and extremist religious groups”.
Case Of Jamal Khashoggi
- October 2018: Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist and a critic of the Saudi Government was murdered at the Saudi consulate in Turkey.
- Tensions between the two increased as Turkish President Erdogan claimed that “the order to kill Khashoggi came from the highest levels of the Saudi government”. However, Erdogan absolved King Salman of Saudi from any responsibility.
- June 2019: A report by UN special rapporteur Agnes Callamard claimed that the Saudi Arabian state was responsible for the murder.
- The Armenian Genocide was the systematic mass murder and expulsion of 1.5 million ethnic Armenians carried out in Turkey and adjoining regions by the Ottoman government between 1914 and 1923.
- Iran–Saudi Arabia proxy conflict is the ongoing struggle for influence in the Middle East and surrounding regions between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. In what has been described as a cold war, the conflict is waged on multiple levels over geopolitical, economic, and sectarian influence in pursuit of regional hegemony.
- The Treaty of Zuhab was an accord signed between the Safavid Empire and the Ottoman Empire on May 17, 1639. The accord ended the Ottoman-Safavid War of 1623–1639 and was the last conflict in almost 150 years of intermittent wars between the two states.
- The Independent – Saudi business leader urges boycott of ‘hostile’ Turkey
- Reuters – Saudi prince says Turkey part of ‘triangle of evil’: Egyptian media
- BBC – Jamal Khashoggi: All you need to know about Saudi journalist’s death
- Business Insider – Behind Turkey’s Humiliating Failure To Win A UN Security Council Seat
- The Conversation – How Turkey and Saudi Arabia became frenemies – and why the Khashoggi case could change that