Three reasons why Turkish president urged Saudis to end Yemen war

Alwaght – The deterioration of the humanitarian situation in Yemen and the frequent international organizations’ reports about the depth of the tragedy in the war-torn Arab state begin to unleash huge waves of global protests against the responsible countries and their supporters.

The international outcry about the worsening situation in Yemen made the Yemeni case find its way in the negotiations of the leaders of G20 countries at the weekend’s two-day summit in Buenos Aires. Some of the leaders called on the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to end the over-three-year-old aggression against the neighboring country.

Among them was the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan who took an unprecedented stance on Yemen crisis. The position received the welcome of Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, a senior member of the Ansarullah movement and the president of the Revolutionary Committee, which governs Sana’a the capital and other northern provinces. Erdogan’s posture beside being in consistency with the world’s pro-Yemeni stances appears to carry the president’s goals. Three of them are brought in spotlight below.

Undermining bin Salman

Some of the analysts speculated that Erdogan will meet the Saudi crown prince on the sidelines of the Buenos Aires conference and they will seal a secret deal to de-escalate the tensions caused by assassination of prominent Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. But the Turkish leader turned down the meeting offer made by the Saudi de facto ruler, showing that he is focusing on seizing the opportunity to put the brakes on the young prince’s power gain in the royal family which will allow him to ascend the throne.

The evidence shows that bin Salman does not want a respite for his policy of crackdown against the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist movement that spreads across the Arab world and is supported by Turkey and Qatar. Riyadh and its allies like the UAE find the movement a potential danger to their thrones. That is why they imposed a blockade on its main supporter Qatar last year. Perhaps the Arab kingdom will even intensify its anti-Muslim Brotherhood measures after weathering the current crisis in the region as a retaliation to Ankara and Doha’s heavy anti-Riyadh media and diplomatic campaign in Khashoggi case.

Erdogan finds the Yemeni crisis, masterminded by Prince Mohammed and his circle of insiders, a convenient spot where he can sting bin Salman in a bid to add a new record of failure to already long list of the Saudi foreign policy’s fiascos.

In fact, retreat from the Yemen war, which will automatically mean accepting the defeat in a war not against an official and well-organized army rather against a popular movement, can be the final nail in the coffin for bin Salman. The 33-year-old crown prince in addition to burning through the kingdom’s petrodollars in a fruitless war, totally destroyed the dream of Saudi Arabian regional, and even global, position jump-up under bin Salman which was promoted by the internal, and even international, media with the aim to win him legitimacy.

Moving closer to Axis of Resistance

Tracking the course of West Asia region’s developments since 2003 reveals the indisputable reality about the downslide of the US influence in the region and ascendance of the regional countries and Iran-led Axis of Resistance, which includes Lebanese Hezbollah and other resistant organizations, in a new regional order.

Erdogan, in power for nearly two decades, is well aware of the fact that the West will never buy the ruling Justice and Development Party of Turkey (AKP) as a strategic ally. The West made this clear in more than one case in relation to Ankara: Its hands in the July 2016 failed military coup, failing Erdogan in Syria case, and also the recent economic sanctions on Turkey after a standoff with Washington over the imprisoned American priest who was accused by a Turkish court of espionage in the country and links to the coup plotters.

This, beside the de-escalatory positions of the Resistance camp in favor of settling the disputes between the regional countries to foil the divisive plots of the West and the Israeli regime, have brought Turkey and Resistance Axis closer to each other. A set of similar positions, including opposition to split of Syria and Iraq, objection to Qatar blockade, joint work to deter the US sanctions, support for the Palestinian cause, and push to end the Yemen war, signal this closeness.

On November 7, Foreign Minister Mohammad bin Abdulrahman Al Thani of Qatar, a Turkish ally, visited Iraq. During a meeting with Baghdad’s officials, the FM proposed that Iraq, Qatar, Iran, Turkey, and Syria form a political, economic, and security alliance. Besides, some Arab states’ tendency to normalize diplomatic relations with the Israeli regime necessitates the formation of new regional alliances with the participation of parties with a spirit of resistance against the Israeli expansion project.

Riyadh and Ankara competition

Another drive for the Turkish president’s Yemen call is linked to his desire to restore the glory and magnificence of the past under Ottoman Empire to the modern-day Turkey. The same leadership is desired by Saudi Arabia that has been propagating the Wahhabi ideology across the Muslim world. Riyadh represents a major hurdle ahead of Erdogan aspirations by striving after this dream through huge spending and taking stances harmonious with the Western policy and interests which revolve around saving the Israeli security.

So, the Yemen crisis offers a path for Erdogan to step in the Muslim and Arab world affairs. On the other hand, Erdogan’s Yemen call is a response to the increasing Saudi backing to the Syrian Kurds posing challenges to Turkish security and territorial unity.