With the constant fear of Ankara releasing the tapes and sabotaging Riyadh’s attempts to deny or conceal their involvement, Saudi Arabia has been caught in a very public tight spot. Forced to repeatedly offer feasible explanations that would then be torn apart by subsequent Turkish leaks, Saudi Arabia’s credibility and reputation have been damaged. For Saudi Arabia, a country currently obsessed with its international image, this must have surely been a uniquely painful experience at the hands of its rival.
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Rather than ignoring Freeland’s tweet, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (also known as MBS) hit back hard. He expelled the Canadian ambassador, recalled the Saudi ambassador to Canada, froze all new trade, cancelled direct flights to Toronto, and ordered Saudi students and medical patients in Canada to finish their education and treatment somewhere else.
The UAE is also implicated in abuses against detainees in UAE-controlled prisons in Yemen, according to Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor. The human rights organization says that hundreds of detainees in Yemen have been subjected to physical and sexual torture as well as mass assault in prisons run by armed groups from the UAE, which is part of the Saudi-led coalition fighting the Houthi rebellion.
Observers nonetheless hope that MBS will succeed in curtailing the influence of Wahhabi clerics. Then again, his foreign policy does not appear to offer an effective means to combat terrorism. Saudi Arabia’s devastating bombing campaign in Yemen is a case in point. With the country now completely fragmented, extremists have thrived.
Fuelling Saudi Arabia’s anger, Turkey sent additional troops to Qatar in December 2017, and the two countries signed an agreement in March 2018 to establish a naval base and training centre and to send 60,000 more soldiers. In response, Saudi Arabia’s powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) described Turkey as part of a “triangle of evil” along with Iran and hardline Islamist groups.