Turkey on tour

President Erdogan is hopping his way across the Gulf this week, with stops in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Monday

Photo: Kayhan Özer/Anadolu Agency

Photo: Kayhan Özer/Anadolu Agency

President Erdogan is hopping his way across the Gulf this week, with stops in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Monday will see the Turkish leader arrive in Riyadh for talks on trade and security cooperation.

While relations between Turkey and Saudi Arabia cooled in 2013 over a disagreement about a coup in Egypt, a shared interest in countering Iran’s regional influence has brought the two together again.

Last week, the Saudi and Turkish foreign ministers met in Ankara for the first ever Turkish-Saudi Coordination Council. This new talking shop aims to boost bilateral trade and investment, which was valued at $8 billion in 2016. The leaders of the two regional powers are also expected to discuss a free trade agreement between GCC member states and Turkey, although its implementation is some way off.

With both countries active in the Syrian theatre, Erdogan and his counterpart won’t be able to ignore regional security. A visit to Ankara by CIA Director Mike Pompeo last week will focus talks on how Middle Eastern countries can get the most out of President Trump – who’s viewed favourably in the region, which had tired of his overly cautious and Tehran-friendly predecessor.

Go deeper: Not at my level: Erdogan and the Middle East