RIYADH (RAHNUMA) Following Thursday’s meeting in Jeddah between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and King Salman of Saudi Arabia, the strained relationship between the two countries is expected to dramatically improve.
The ice-breaking meeting — the highest-level diplomatic rendezvous between Turkey and Saudi Arabia since 2017 — is part of broader efforts by Turkey to improve its relationships with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in recent months, during which economic ties have been revived and Turkey has abstained from regional conflicts. Earlier this year, Saudi Arabia lifted its ban on Turkish goods, which had been in effect for four years.
As a result of Erdogan’s visit, the two countries are set to boost bilateral cooperation in health, energy, food security, defense, agriculture and finance. Turkey’s emerging drone technology may also be of interest to Riyadh.
Erdogan was received by Makkah Governor Prince Khalid Al-Faisal, who is also advisor to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, and several senior officials. Erdogan also met with Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.
The two-day visit is expected to signal a new chapter not only in economic terms, but also in regional politics — forming a bloc that will have greater influence over regional crisis points.
Ahead of his visit, Erdogan told reporters in Istanbul: “My visit is a manifestation of our common will to start a new era of cooperation as two brotherly countries with historical, cultural and human ties. We attach as much importance to the stability and security of our brothers in the Gulf region as our own stability and security.”
On the first day of his visit, Erdogan said: “I believe we will take our relations to a level beyond what they were previously. My visit will open the doors of a new era with our friend (and) brother Saudi Arabia.”
A political alignment between the two countries will offer Ankara greater weight when it comes to issues including Syria, Egypt, Iraq and the Eastern Mediterranean.
Oubai Shahbandar, a defense analyst, thinks that Erdogan’s visit is a major boost for natural partners who share common security interests.
“Turkey’s defense industry will find an eager and valuable partner in Saudi Arabia,” he told Arab News. “And the Kingdom will benefit greatly from the wide variety of advanced tech expertise and products in Turkey’s defense sector that will be immeasurably valuable in Saudi’s ongoing counter-terror campaign against Iranian-backed proxies.”
The Turkish-Saudi defense partnership reached its peak in 2016 when ASELSAN, one of the top Turkish defense companies, signed a tripartite memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Saudi defense companies TAQNIA and KACST.
According to Shahbandar, Riyadh-Ankara security cooperation will likely expand over time based on their common interests and shared understanding on how to achieve regional stability in light of Iranian activity.