Will Saudi Arabia get away with the alleged murder of a journalist?
Ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) officials take immense pleasure to criticize Turkish foreign policy that has been followed by governments preceding their ascent to power in 2002. Although it was usually right-wing political parties that have largely been in the government following the first multi-party elections in 1946, the AKP blames the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) for what they label a “passive” foreign policy stance.
In the eyes of those coming from the tradition of political Islam, Turkey’s foreign policy throughout the Republican era has been shaped by secular elites and independent of whether it was right-wing or left-wing parties sitting at the seat of the government, foreign policy was pro-Western, while anti-Arab and anti-Islamic world.
Upon recent criticism from the CHP about the initial decision to receive consultancy services from the international consultancy firm McKinsey, President Recep Tayip Erdoğan replied by saying that Turkey had closed the IMF chapter for good and added that the four agreements following the initial standby agreement with the IMF were signed by the CHP’s late leader İsmet İnönü.
“The history of the CHP, which brought the evil of IMF to our country, is full of grave political and economic records,” he said.
When U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson sent a letter in 1964 to Turkey warning that it cannot use American weapons in the then brewing Cyprus dispute, then Prime Minister İnönü had responded, saying, “A new world will then be built and Turkey will take its place there.”
That in a sense reflects the same mentality when Erdoğan argues that the world is bigger than five (referring to the members of the U.N. Security Council). İnönü said this at a time when Turkey’s economic and political standing was much more modest when compared to its current position.
Meanwhile although the AKP governments like to brag about having endorsed a much more dynamic and assertive foreign policy, this has also come at the expense of some “embarrassing diplomatic casualties.”
The foreign policy preceding the AKP’s is devoid of such a hugely embarrassing incident as the one in 2003 when a group of Turkish military personnel operating in northern Iraq were captured and led away with hoods over their heads by U.S. military personnel. A terrorist organization would not have dared seize a Turkish consulate to take more than 40 people hostage and release them three months later. This is what ISIL did in 2014 in Mosul.
At no time in the period before 2002, lobbying efforts abroad were outsourced to a religious brotherhood, which later conspired to topple the government by a coup attempt. The government is now busy fighting the negative campaign abroad of the same group that it strengthened with its own hands.
More recently, the government has again found itself facing another huge diplomatic embarrassment. If the allegations are true, the Saudi government has sent a death squad to Istanbul to kill a well-known Saudi journalist, Jamal Khashoggi.
This is as said by Amnesty International to be an abysmal new low. This will set a dangerous precedent for legitimate dissenting voices who had to leave their countries.
The fact that the Saudis have chosen Turkey to execute this killing means two things: Either they don’t expect Turkey to react meaningfully or they don’t care about any possible Turkish reaction.
One wonders which is more humiliating.
While AKP officials never miss an opportunity to lash out against the West, they endorse a mild rhetoric when it comes to Arab countries despite deep clashes of interests with some of them.
Khashoggi was a name known personally by the president as well as by his close advisors. A lack of prompt reaction will be hard to explain. And it will add yet another shame to Turkey’s already bad track record of its attitude toward journalists.