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Erdogan’s Gulf tour overshadowed by positioning from powerful Saudi prince

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Photo: AP

After a day of talks with Vladimir Putin, Turkey’s president will arrive in Kuwait today for talks on the ongoing blockade of Qatar.

Ankara has been steadfast in its support for the Gulf emirate—delivering food within 24 hours of the blockade and maintaining a sizeable troop presence in the country, despite the Saudi-led bloc demanding they leave. Underlying much of this cooperation is a similar pro-Islamist regional outlook.

President Erdogan insists that the isolation of Qatar must end and will today discuss ways in which Kuwait’s mediocre mediation efforts can be accelerated.

But real power lies in Riyadh. There, Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman— widely believed to be the architect of the Qatar blockade —appears to be laying the groundwork for royal ascension. His father, King Salman, reportedly suffers from dementia, leaving “MbS” to effectively run the Kingdom.

MbS is currently rolling out a potent anti-Iran strategy, confronting Tehran’s influence in Lebanon and Iraq while consolidating power at home with an ‘anti-corruption’ drive. To welcome Iran-friendly Qatar back into the fold now seems unlikely—that will probably have to wait until after the crown prince becomes king.

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