WSJ cracks Turkey’s thirst to be new Sultan of Islam, but Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman still a hard nut to crack!
Two centuries ago, in the fall of 1818, the Saudi monarch was brought to Istanbul in chains.
He was displayed in a cage to the cheering crowds outside the Hagia Sophia mosque, and then, amid celebratory fireworks, his head was chopped off.
In 2018, Turkish President Recep Erdogan missed that opportunity.
That is to drag a chained Saudi crown prince in a cage to Istanbul over the murder of a Saudi citizen in a Saudi consulate.
The death of the Turkish empire liberated Saudi Arabia from the Mameluks.
“But the long legacy of rivalry between the two Sunni Muslim powers—both of them key American allies—has fueled Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s determination to punish the House of Saud for Mr Khashoggi’s death,” writes Yaroslav Trofimov in the Wall Street Journal.
“Mr Erdogan has made several efforts to resist Saudi Arabia’s rise. He sent Turkish troops to protect Qatar, ousted Saudi allies from Somalia and announced a deal to lease an island across the Red Sea from Saudi Arabia in Sudan, possibly for a military base.
“He has also become a vociferous champion of traditional Muslim causes, such as Palestine, and of new ones, such as the suffering of the Rohingya in Myanmar. Istanbul has turned into a favorite hub for Islamist dissidents from across the Arab world.”
“The Turkish president’s foreign policy strategy aims to make Muslims proud again,” said Soner Cagaptay, a scholar at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and the author of a recent biography of Mr Erdogan, “The New Sultan.” “Under this vision, a reimagined and modernized version of the Ottoman past, the Turks are to lead Muslims to greatness.”
But what Turkey will have to deal with now is even more devastating: It is not going to be a member of the European Union. Not after its role in the behind the scenes of the Khashoggi murder.
It is not going to rule the Islamic world, not so soon, and perhaps never again albeit become a military mercenary.
It is not going to sit over the two Holy cities in Saudi Arabia. Not until the collapse of the UN or the collapse of the US.
Tough call indeed for a country and a leadership that believe it is the closest to the companions of the Prophet.