Turkish President Abdullah Gul was in Saudi Arabia last week to discuss the situation in Syria with Saudi King Abdullah. In an email interview, Gareth Jenkins, senior fellow at the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute and the Silk Road Studies Program, discusses Turkey-Saudi Arabia relations.
WPR: What is the current status of Turkish-Saudi relations, and how have they evolved in recent years?
Gareth Jenkins: Turkey and Saudi Arabia have enjoyed cordial rather than close relations since the Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power in Turkey in 2002 and began to focus more on strengthening Ankara's relations with other Muslim countries in the region. Even though they have a strong sense of Sunni Muslim identity, most members of the AKP regard the Saudi interpretation of Islam as being too rigid. Many also regard the Saudi regime as being hypocritical, whether over the divergence in lifestyles favored by members of the Saudi elite at home and when they visit Europe or over Riyadh's traditionally close relationship with Washington.