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Middle East Developments Rattle Sidelined Turkey
By Semih Idiz

The latest developments in the Middle East have left Turkey facing challenges and headaches anew. Ankara has been caught off guard once more, this time by the Nov. 4 missile attack on Riyadh, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's attempts to steer his country toward "moderate Islam" and consolidate his power under the guise of rooting out corruption and Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri's surprise resignation while in Riyadh. The common element in these developments is the increasing animosity between Iran and Saudi Arabia, two key regional players with which Ankara has differences on a number of levels, but with whom it must maintain good relations to avoid further isolation in the Middle East, where it no longer has many true friends.

Meanwhile, deepening US and Russian involvement in Iraq and Syria in particular and the region in general is compounding the Turkish government's concerns. In just one example, the spearheading of an anti-Iranian coalition by Washington and Riyadh, with support from Egypt and Israel, has alarmed Ankara, a fact clearly discernible in the pro-government media.

Hilal Kaplan, a political commentator for the daily Sabah, referred in a column to an "anti-Iranian axis comprising the US, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Israel" and argued, "The next target of this axis will be Qatar and Turkey." Her assessment is based on the awareness that Turkey's unconditional support for Qatar has angered Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states, which want Doha to end its support to the Muslim Brotherhood and stop trying to establish good relations with Iran.

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