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Saudi-Iranian crisis complicates Ankara’s regional plans

Islamists and secularists alike want Turkey to stay out of the Iranian-Saudi conflict.
Shi'ite protesters carry posters of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr during a demonstration in front of Saudi Arabia's Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, January 3, 2016.  REUTERS/Osman Orsal - RTX20V2E

Rising tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran have put Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) on the spot again, providing a fresh example of how its Islamist/Sunni-driven “strategic plans” for the Middle East can be undermined by unforeseen developments.

Pressure began building after the Saudis beheaded 47 prisoners, including popular Shiite cleric and critic Nimr al-Nimr, on Jan. 2. This latest, and to date most dangerous, crisis between Saudi Arabia and Iran began only days after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited Riyadh for talks with King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud aimed at increasing cooperation on regional issues, most notably on Syria.

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