Turkey: Erdogan regime attempts to build a convenient Sunni-Shiite alliance

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The recent news about the involvement of Iranian diplomats in the murder of an Iranian dissident in Turkey sparked a flare of international interest from within the all-encompassing coronavirus pandemic coverage, largely thanks to unflattering comparisons with coverage of the Jamal Khashoggi murder in 2018 (which the Iranian press promoted with gusto). The relative lack of interest in the crime from within Turkey itself reflects Ankara’s willingness to consort with Shiite Islamists to its own advantage.

By Irina Tsukerman
SOURCE: BESA Center (Perspectives Paper No. 1,528, April 14, 2020)

At the time of the murder of Saudi journalist and spokesman Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan unleashed an intense media campaign blaming the kingdom’s Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman for the crime. He did this in part to advance his own agenda of asserting more control in Syria, where Saudi Arabia was a hindrance.

Most of the mainstream Western media covered the Khashoggi killing by relying on leaks from Turkish intelligence-affiliated outlets as well as Al Jazeera, and thus ended up spending an inordinate amount of time producing hagiographies of Khashoggi and demonizing the Crown Prince.

Erdoğan and the media stayed quiet, however, on the number of journalists fired, imprisoned, and even assassinated in Turkey, as well as on the Iranian dissidents who have been surveilled, threatened, assaulted, and even abducted thanks to a tacit security arrangement with the IRGC, which roams freely in Istanbul and other big cities in Turkey. None of that activity could occur without the Turkish leadership’s approval.

When Saeed Karimian, an Iranian executive who had launched a popular TV station in Turkey but who also had ties to Iranian drug trafficking and sanctions circumvention, was assassinated in Istanbul in 2017, Iranian government involvement could be easily presumed, but Ankara chose not to press the issue. READ MORE BY FOLOWING THE LINK