Erdogan Exerts His Leverage Over the Saudis

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is a skilful politician who knows how to maximise his advantages and this was very much on display in his speech to the Turkish parliament.

He contemptuously dismissed the official Saudi story that the murder of Jamal Khashoggi was the accidental outcome of a botched interrogation by a “rogue” Saudi intelligence team.

It was always naive to imagine that Mr Erdogan would tell all that Turkey knows about the murder and the Saudi role in it because such information – particularly the alleged audio recording of the killing – is invaluable in giving Turkey leverage over Saudi Arabia and, to a lesser degree, the US.

Mr Erdogan disappointed the media by not producing “a smoking gun”, but it is not in his interests to do so for the moment. However, he was categorical in showing that the killing of Mr Khashoggi was premeditated. “Intelligence and security institutions have evidence showing the murder was planned,” he said. “Pinning such a case on some security and intelligence members will not satisfy us or the international community.”

This unlikely narrative is, of course, exactly what Saudi Arabia is trying to sell to the rest of the world. Mr Erdogan did not mention Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman by name. But then he does not have to. All he had to say was that “from the person who gave the order to the person who carried it out, they must all be brought to account”. The nation has repeatedly denied any…

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