A London-based news portal said that Saudi Arabia has begun implementing a “strategic plan” to confront the Ankara government after Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman decided he was being “too patient” with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the wake of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s murder last October.
The plan is detailed in a confidential report based on open and closed source intelligence prepared by the Kingdom’s ally, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the news portal, Middle East Eye, said on Monday.
Entitled “Monthly Report on Saudi Arabia, Issue 24, May 2019”, the report is of limited circulation and intended for top Emirati leadership. It does not appear on the think tank’s website but a copy has been obtained by Middle East Eye.
It reveals that in Riyadh in May, orders were given to implement the “strategic plan” to confront the Turkish government.
The aim of the plan was to use “all possible tools to pressure Erdogan’s government, weaken him, and keep him busy with domestic issues in the hope that he will be brought down by the opposition, or occupy him with confronting crisis after crisis, and push him to slip up and make mistakes which the media would surely pick up on”, the report said.
Riyadh’s aim was to restrict Erdogan and Turkey’s regional influence, it added.
According to the report, the Crown prince took the decision to confront Turkey following the assassination of Khashoggi by a team of Saudi agents in their country’s Istanbul consulate on October 2, 2018.
The murder of the Saudi journalist, a Middle East Eye and Washington Post columnist, created international outrage, in large part due to Turkey’s insistence on Riyadh providing accountability and transparency over the affair.
“President Erdogan went too far in his campaign smearing the Kingdom, especially the person of the Crown Prince, using in the most reprehensible manner the case of Khashoggi,” the report said.
In the document, the Emirates Policy Centre has claimed that Turkey did not provide “specific and honest” information to assist the Saudi investigation into the killing, but instead leaked “disinformation” to the media “all aimed at distorting the image of the Kingdom and attempting to destroy the reputation of the Crown Prince”.
Both the CIA and leading members of the US Congress have accepted the Turkish intelligence assessment of Khashoggi’s murder.
The CIA also concluded that the Crown Prince almost certainly signed off on the operation, an assessment based on its own intelligence as well.
The Middle East Eye said that the first public sign of the plan detailed in the Emirati document coming to life was last week when Saudi authorities blocked 80 Turkish trucks transporting textile products and chemicals from entering the Kingdom through its Duba port.