The foreign minister of Turkey has issued rare public criticism of President Donald Trump, accusing him of looking the other way in the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told CNN Turk that Trump needed to change his priorities.
“In a way, Mr. Trump’s statement means ‘Come what may, I will turn a blind eye on this.’ This approach is wrong. Money is not everything. We should not distance ourselves from human values,” Cavusoglu said.
Turkey has concluded that Khashoggi, a critic of the Saudi government, was murdered in the Saudi consulate in Turkey and that the murder was planned in advance. A recording exists of the murder, which has been heard by several world leaders.
However, Trump has disputed the findings of US intelligence that Saudi Arabia is responsible for Khashoggi’s death. Trump denied that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) ordered the killing. Turkey has responded poorly to Trump’s scepticism.
“We found the US President’s statement about MBS’s involvement where he said ‘Maybe he did, maybe he didn’t,’ interesting. What he based this on, we don’t know,” Cavusoglu told CNN.
Both Turkey and Saudi Arabia are key US allies in the region, but Trump has definitely taken the side of the Saudi government. He has repeatedly claimed that bin Salman may not be responsible for the killing and that the findings are not conclusive, much as he had previously disputed the fact that Russia tried to interfere in the 2016 election.
Trump’s ongoing defense of Saudi Arabia has strained relations with a long-term ally, which is essential for US strategy in the Middle East.