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What’s at Stake for Erdogan in the Khashoggi Affair?

Turkey's Dangerous Game

Turkish police forensics experts leave from the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, October 16, 2018 Murad Sezer / REUTERS

The killing of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul could not have come at a worse time for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Economic troubles have forced him to mute his anti-Western rhetoric: the country faces a currency crisis, double-digit inflation, and an enormous current account deficit. Erdogan has to fix Turkey’s badly damaged relationships with Europe and Washington, even while managing a fragile partnership with Russia in Syria. The prospect of a crisis with Saudi Arabia, which is a major investor in Turkey and with whose regime he has studiously tried to remain cordial, must have initially overwhelmed Turkey’s strongman.

If anyone can turn a burden this size into an opportunity, it is Erdogan. In fact, the Khashoggi crisis has proved an unexpected opportunity for Turkey. At a time when its reputation has been tarnished by the jailing of journalists and the violation

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