In the wake of Turkish revelations about the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Saudi television claims President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been “spreading coronavirus to the Arab world”.
The allegation, that has caused outrage in Turkey, was made on local channel ‘Saudi 24’, when Zayed Al-Omari, sometimes written as Zayed Al-Amri, blamed the Turkish leader for the outbreak of COVID-19 (coronavirus) in the region.
He was quoted as saying: “Erdogan is trying to spread coronavirus to the Arab world, even to Saudi Arabia.”
He also claimed that the Turkish authorities are refusing to confirm any virus cases because they want Saudi tourists to unknowingly contract COVID-19 in Turkey before spreading it further afield, according to reports.
The TV commentator also claimed that the virus is widespread in Turkey, but the government will not disclose any details in the hope that Saudi tourists will contract COVID-19 and spread it to neighbouring countries.
He added: “The enemy of your country is your enemy.”
The Saudi TV allegations may also be motivated by the fact that Turkey has now decided to routinely testing people coming from Saudi Arabia for the COVID-19 Virus. Most of these will reportedly be people returning from the Umrah minor pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia coming into Istanbul Airport.
At the moment, Turkey has not confirmed any COVID-19 cases in the country. Saudi Arabia has said that five citizens have contracted the virus.
Saudi Arabia and Turkey have previously enjoyed a strong economic relationship, but relations started to deteriorate after the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October 2018.
In November 2018, the CIA concluded that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman ordered Khashoggi’s assassination.
The Turkish authorities also had evidence to implicate the crown prince, according to reports.
In December 2018, Khashoggi was named Time magazine’s person of the year for his work in journalism along with other journalists who faced political persecution for their work.
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