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Saudi Arabia forces businesses not to trade with Turkey in effort to boost boycott

July 24, 2020 at 3:03 pm

Antique atrium with several shops and vendors of traditional goods in Istanbul, Turkey on 30 March 2014 [Miguel Virkkunen Carvalho/Flickr]

Saudi Arabia has been putting pressure on local businesses not to trade with Turkey and its industries in a bid to boost its unofficial boycott. The detention of trucks carrying produce from Turkey has raised tension between the two countries.

According to Middle East Eye, citing information from Turkish officials, the Kingdom has been preventing trucks carrying fresh fruit and vegetables from crossing the Saudi border. “The relevant authorities have contacted the Saudis about the issue,” said one official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “The trade minister [has] already made a phone call to her Saudi counterpart.”

The Turkish newspaper Dunya also reported that the Saudi government has contacted individual businesses and ordered them not to trade with Turkish companies or buy any products made in Turkey. The government will impose fines on any company which ignores this order.

“[Saudi Arabia] cannot officially reveal this policy due to World Trade Organisation sanctions,” the paper added. “You cannot even sell Turkish goods from Germany because they don’t want anything with a ‘made in Turkey’ stamp.”

The Kingdom has also cancelled the employment contracts of high-ranking Turkish nationals working within the Gulf country. Turkey is considering a formal dispute complaint to the WTO and is seeking compensation if it goes ahead.

Over the past few years, relations between Turkey and some of the Gulf States such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have been particularly strained due to differences in foreign policy goals and initiatives. While Turkey supports the opposition in Syria and the UN-backed government in Libya, for example, Saudi Arabia and its regional allies have warmer relations with the Syrian regime and backs renegade Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar in the North African state.

READ: Haftar and the Gulf states are leading a hypocritical, fake war against Islamism in Libya

Another issue between the Ankara and Riyadh is still the murder of exiled Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in October 2018, which took place within the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. While Saudi Arabia has denied official responsibility for the killing and has blamed it on rogue agents, Turkey has presented evidence which, it insists, proves that it was ordered by Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman. This month, Turkey put 20 suspects on trial, namely those who were part of the Saudi hit squad who killed Khashoggi.

Petty examples of this rivalry have been seen when, for example, Prince Faisal Bin Bandar Bin Abdulaziz refused to drink Turkish coffee offered to him last year. Prince Abdullah Bin Sultan Al Saud then called for a boycott of Turkey and its produce until “Ankara reviews its policies with the Kingdom.”

In another incident last year, Riyadh blocked dozens of Turkish trucks carrying textile products and chemicals on the border of the Kingdom. The Saudi authorities have also changed “Ottoman Empire” to “Ottoman occupation” in school textbooks, and this year removed the sign from a Riyadh street named after Ottoman Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent.