Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Ibrahim Abdulaziz al-Assaf paid a visit to the Greek Administration of Southern Cyprus and met with his counterpart Nikos Christodoulides.
This is no visit that can be overlooked by saying, “Saudi Arabia is an independent country; it can have contacts with any country it wants and build any relations it wants.” Both countries’ own specific positions and the statements made during this visit make it clear that this visit directly targets Turkey and aims to send Turkey a message.
In saying the two countries’ position, primarily, Turkey’s relations with the Greek Administration of Southern Cyprus is common knowledge. Turkey defends the rights of the Turkish side as a guarantor country. Yet, the Greek side, with the unjust power and support from the EU, is acting like it has sole right over the island, and it is pursuing to share the underground resources in the East Mediterranean with whomever it wants – primarily with Israel – and however it wants.
Those encouraging and galvanizing it are obvious. Turkey is carrying on a fight for rights in this area after all; it does not have its eye on anyone’s land or claims. Cyprus’s exclusive economic zone belongs to the whole island and the Greek administration cannot disregard the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) and act like it is the sole beneficiary of the region.
Saudi Arabia now joining those who are galvanizing the Greek Cypriot administration through this visit with respect to such bold behavior is quite strange, because the matter has no aspect concerning Saudi Arabia. Riyadh cannot cause Turkey any detriment nor can it be of any advantage to the Greek Cypriot administration by joining this equilibrium. However, it is obvious the concern here is to make clear which side they stand on. Yet the side they are taking will cause them great loss rather than any gain.
The timing of the visit by Minister al-Assaf, the first Saudi foreign minister to visit Southern Cyprus, is of course quite telling in terms of these relations. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to Southern Cyprus Khalid Mohammed Al-Sharif had presented his letter of confidence last week to leader Nikos Anastasiadis.
It was reported that during the meeting with his counterpart, the minister stated, “We stand with Southern Cyprus, one of our chief allies, against Turkey’s illegal operations in the Mediterranean. We are going to increase our military cooperation.”
Saudi Arabia is currently the term president of the Cooperation of Islamic Organisation (OIC); Turkey was the previous term president. Of course, this presidency and the fact that it is the custodian of the two holy cities, require it to be more sensitive regarding the issues of the Muslim world. Unfortunately, the Saudi Arabian administration, which has no idea or concern about the Muslim world’s issues, and has shown no effort concerning their solution, is on the contrary doing nothing other than making things in the Muslim world more complex.
During a television program on TRT Arabic to which I was invited to evaluate this topic, I said that as one of the most important countries of the Muslim world, there are actions expected from Riyadh and actions which it is expected to refrain from. For example, I tried to explain that this action has no rationality whatsoever that corresponds with Saudi Arabia’s current position, its historical responsibility, nor its magnitude as a state.
These statements were posted by the channel in a Twitter post with a video. The message shortly reached close to a million views; when I last checked, the number of comments under the post were nearing 3,000. Almost all the comments are attacking with the same discourse, as though they all received instruction from a single source.
How many of the comments reflect the official discourse? I have neither the chance, nor time – or even the tolerance – to go through all of them. When you look at a few of them you can clearly see that they are all duplicates of each another anyway. Yet, it is clear that most consider this visit was made to spite Turkey’s politics due to Qatar, Iran and the Khashoggi issues.
Obviously the approach that sees Saudi Arabia’s rapprochement with Cyprus as the same as Turkey’s relations with Qatar is a very sick approach, and an unfortunate approach that still fails to see Turkey wants what is best for all, including Saudi Arabia. An existing military cooperation agreement between Turkey and Qatar required it to fulfill the responsibility of protecting Qatar against the siege. This relation between Turkey and Qatar was established long before its dispute with Saudi Arabia. As a matter of fact, by doing this, Turkey saved Saudi Arabia from falling into a great mistake. Unfortunately, this is yet to be understood even at this stage. But they will understand eventually.
As for the murder of Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Turkey is demanding those responsible for a crime committed on its own soil be held to account. Turkey doesn’t have the opportunity to bring those responsible of this horrific murder, which was committed on its own soil and in front of the eyes of the whole world, to justice.
Turkey wanting those responsible for this murder to be brought to justice in the most objective manner is not only its right, but also a responsibility. Those who brand Turkey as an enemy for fulfilling this responsibility will not gain anything, but on the contrary will lose a lot. Justice will always be served – even if it is against our own interests or those of our kith and kin. Saudi Arabia’s approach towards Southern Cyprus to spite Turkey with respect to the Qatar and Khashoggi issues, instead of trying to further improve the situation within the context of all these relations, shows, beyond anything, that even its resentment is wrongly configured. Just as such a spite can give nothing to the Greeks, there is nothing it can take from Turkey. It will only leave Saudi Arabia’s position more worn than it already is.