Saudi writer’s disappearance strains Turkey-Saudi ties

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<pAt first glance, the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi from the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul is just the latest crisis to strain relations between the kingdom and Turkey<p"To avoid further problems, Turkey has been trying hard not to further strain ties with Saudi Arabia," Tol said.

<pThat hasn't been helped by the Oct. 2 disappearance of Khashoggi, a contributor to The Washington Post whose writing helped interpret to the West the opaque machinations of the Saudi royal court.

<pKhashoggi wrote columns critical of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the 33-year-old son of King Salman, and had lived in the United States over the last year in a self-imposed exile.

<pTurkish officials fear a Saudi team of 15 men killed and dismembered the writer at the consulate. They have yet to publish any evidence of him being slain, though surveillance footage around the consulate shows a convoy of vehicles with diplomatic license plates leaving the Saudi Consulate for the consul's home in Istanbul a little under two hours after Khashoggi's arrival.

<pReports in Turkish media and the Post suggest Turkish officials have both video and audio of the killing, something The Associated Press has been unable to confirm.

<pSaudi Arabia meanwhile maintains that the allegations against it are "baseless," but has yet to offer any proof that Khashoggi simply walked out of the consulate and disappeared into Istanbul, despite his fiancée waiting for him outside.

<pThe crisis comes at a sensitive time for Erdogan. The Turkish lira has depreciated by close to 40 percent against the U.S. dollar since the start of the year. Inflation has spiked. Part of that rests on the massive loans taken out by the country during a construction boom under Erdogan, which helped fuel his popularity.

<pPresident Donald Trump<p"A complete disruption of relations with Riyadh is not what it needs, nor what it wants," Hellyer said. "Which is presumably why Ankara is giving Riyadh a way to minimize damage via this joint working group."