Turkey's Erdogan in Riyadh: Iran, regional security top agenda

Turkey's Erdogan in Riyadh: Iran, regional security top agenda
Buoyed by election results but weighed down by Russian sanctions and regional conflicts, the Turkish president is in Riyadh for a two-day visit, focusing on security.
2 min read
29 December, 2015
Erdogan and his wife Emine departed to Riyadh on Tuesday for a two-day visit [Anadolu]
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrives on Tuesday in Riyadh on a two-day visit with a packed agenda.

He will hold meetings with Saudi King Salman and top Saudi officials, expected to focus on boosting military, economic and political ties, including discussions on events in Syria and other Middle East issues.

The visit could also tackle the lifting of international sanctions on Iran and its subsequent international rehabilitation expected to begin next year, as well as the Saudi-proposed Islamic anti-terror coalition and recent tensions between Baghdad and Ankara.

The conflict in Yemen will also be present in the talks.

No less importantly, Erdogan and Saudi leaders will discuss boosting economic ties, in light of collapsing oil prices, Saudi plans for radical economic policy shifts and Turkey's dire need to offset Russian economic sanctions.

King Salman had invited Erdogan to visit Riyadh during November’s G-20 summit in Antalya, where ties between the two nations were further strengthened following a period of tension triggered by conflicting policies in Egypt

In March, Erdogan made a landmark visit to Riyadh, opening a new chapter with the kingdom following the ascent of King Salman to the throne succeeding the late King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz.

Arda Ermut, chief of the Investment Support and Promotion Agency of Turkey, said that Erdogan’s visit would boost mutual investments, which would have a positive impact on the entire region.

Ermut told local Turkish press that there are 800 Turkish-Saudi joint venture companies working on Turkish soil.

“These companies are part of 45,000 Turkish foreign joint ventures. Definitely, the huge influx of tourists all year round to our country from all over the world, estimated currently at over 40 million, was a major stimulus for this Saudi and foreign influx of investments,” he said.

In the last 10 years, two-way trade between the kingdom and Turkey rose from almost $1.25 billion to roughly $5 billion and is poised to rise further in the coming few years, with further cooperation in defence and security.

The Kingdom and Turkey have similar views on Syria, Iraq and Yemen and are opposed to Iran’s expanding influence in the region. 

Turkey has supported the Saudi-led coalition fighting Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen, but remains at odds with Riyadh over Saudi support for the regime of Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who ousted Turkey's ally Islamist President Mohammed Morsi in a military coup in 2013.