Saudi Arabia needs to purchase armed drones from Turkey, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated Monday within the newest potential signal of a thaw between the 2 governments.
Ankara and Riyadh all however ceased cooperation on regional issues as ties soured following the state-sanctioned homicide of dissident Saudi journalist and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi inside Riyadh’s consulate in Istanbul in 2018.
Still, Erdogan criticized Riyadh at the moment for collaborating in joint navy workout routines with Greece, Turkey’s essential rival within the jap Mediterranean. Turkish officers have slammed Saudi Arabia’s attendance at a discussion board in Athens in February that includes protection ministers from France, Greece, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.
Those international locations have sought mutual protection and financial cooperation within the jap Mediterranean in response to Ankara’s ambitions relating to hydrocarbon rights there, in addition to its involvement in war-torn Libya.
Meanwhile, Arab states such because the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain normalized ties final yr with Israel, a rustic with which Turkey has made little headway in repairing ties. Ankara additionally just lately began speaking once more with Egypt after years of icy relations following Cairo’s 2013 coup.
Why it issues: As Gulf states look to increase their drone, missile and air protection arsenals amid incessant assaults from Iran-linked teams within the area, Turkey’s game-changing expertise might present Ankara with leverage.
Qatar already makes use of Turkey’s Bayraktar TB2 armed drones, as do Azerbaijan and Ukraine, and Turkey is seeking to promote elsewhere. The unmanned weapons proved devastatingly efficient on the battlefields of Libya and Nagorno-Karabakh.
Meanwhile, the Biden administration is holding off on superior arms gross sales to Saudi Arabia proper now, pumping the brakes on hopes fostered by the Trump administration, which opened Gulf state markets to US armed drone producers.
What’s subsequent: There’s nonetheless an extended approach to go earlier than any Saudi-Turkish rapprochement. The two international locations took opposing sides in Egypt’s 2013 coup, Libya’s civil struggle and the Gulf Cooperation Council’s dispute with Qatar, amongst different issues.
Yet with the GCC rift and Libya’s struggle starting to wane, alternatives for additional cooperation could also be budding.
Know extra: Al-Monitor recaps what might lie forward for the area if Egypt and Turkey restore their battered relations.