Apr 27, 2022 - World

Turkey's Erdoğan heading to Saudi Arabia to try to repair relations

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on July 23, 2017. Photo: Kayhan Ozer/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on July 23, 2017. Photo: Kayhan Ozer/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is expected to visit Saudi Arabia Thursday in an attempt to repair the strained relations between the countries, Turkish media reported.

Why it matters: The visit will be the first major breakthrough since Turkey and Saudi Arabia's relations broke down over the 2018 murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.

Driving the news: A Turkish official told me Erdoğan is expected to visit Saudi Arabia in the coming days but declined to confirm the exact date. No official announcement was released by the Turkish or Saudi governments.

  • Erdoğan is expected to meet with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, per the Turkish press.

Flashback: The Turkish government exposed the Khashoggi murder and published the intelligence it had on the Saudi government’s involvement.

  • Erdoğan claimed the order to kill Khashoggi "came from the highest levels of the Saudi government," but he stressed King Salman wasn’t involved.
  • U.S. intelligence concluded in a classified report made public by the Biden administration that the murder was approved by the crown prince, who denies any involvement.

Behind the scenes: A Turkish court earlier this month stopped the legal proceedings against 26 Saudi nationals who were allegedly involved in the murder and transferred the case to the Saudi legal authorities.

  • The move was seen as a key Saudi condition to begin to repair relations.

The big picture: The Turkish effort to mend ties with Saudi Arabia is part of a wider push by Erdoğan to improve relations with countries in the region, like the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Israel.

  • Turkey is also seeking to improve ties with Saudi Arabia as part of a new regional policy to bolster its struggling economy, wrote Ragip Soylu, a Turkish journalist based in Ankara who was the first to report on the upcoming visit.
  • Saudi Arabia boycotted goods from Turkey as part of the crisis over the Khashoggi murder.
Go deeper