After a lengthy historical impasse, common strategic, regional and economic interests brought about an unusual partnership between Saudi Arabia and Turkey. Relations were strengthening under the pressure of the Arab uprisings, in which both countries were destined to coordinate their support for the Syrian rebels and counterbalance Iran’s expansion in the region. Yet, in the wake of the Egyptian coup, this partnership appears to be strained as the two countries’ visions collided over the overthrow of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi.
The Turkish leadership made clear its objections to deposing an Islamist leader with whom it had close ideological affinities. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan called on the UN Security Council to meet after the massacre of Egyptian protesters, and reprimanded Europe for remaining silent. In July, it was reported that he was puzzled by Saudi backing of the coup and rhetorically asked Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal, “How could a country claiming to uphold Islam and Sharia support the overthrow of an elected Islamist president who came to power after fair elections?”