Why don't the Turks expel the Saudi diplomats?

The Saudis murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi Consulate in Turkey in October.

Turkey has highlighted the incident to bring worldwide condemnation on Saudi Arabia.

But (as far as I understand) the Turks have not ordered the consulate closed, or even expelled any Saudi diplomatic personnel.

I realize there’ll be a tit-for-tat response from the Saudis if they do.

But still - isn’t this such a flagrant abuse of diplomatic privilege that it warrants expulsion and/or closing down the facility?

Under the circumstances, why is it so vital to maintain the exchange of diplomats?

(The British seized and closed down the Libyan Embassy in 1984 - and broke off relations - because someone shot and killed a police officer from the building.)

Probably because the Turks don’t feel the benefits of severing relations outweigh the drawbacks. There’s not going to be a GQ answer to this.

One thought: Would Turkish citizens be able to go on a Hajj if there was not a Saudi embassy around to apply for a visa from? That might be a consideration.

There are special Hajj visas which are often allocated in the Muslim nations via the national Waqf or Habous agency. The Ibn Saud have rarely used those politically as it is very explosive issue. I think they have only restricted them once, for the Iran after the revolution.

However, the Saudis might indeed react in ways to make other religious visas harder, particularly the Oumra (that is the hajj out of the Hajj season). This would be a less explosive tit-for-tat.

If so that may not have been political but based on Shi’ite vs. Sunni.

This is not a factual answer, but I would personally suspect that it’s because they don’t care about the murder. They are using it to affect American policy, not because they actually feel any form of condemnation towards the Saudis. Closing the connection with Saudi Arabia wouldn’t affect the USA, so it’s not on their list of things to do.

Some of the talking heads mentioned that Turkey (at least early on) was being very deliberate on how they phrased their accusations (for diplomatic reasons), e.g. to not blame the crown prince specifically for the murder.

I want to point out that this is not a given, and this is GQ, not GD.

A number of US Senators have stated that it is true, based on their discussions with the head of the CIA, and based on recordings from the room supplied by the Turks. The Saudi Prince also admitted that it happened, though he denied that it was completely premeditated (though, the fact that they were able to dispose of the body makes that seem unlikely).

I think it’s reasonable to say that it is a settled fact.

It could be that Turkish-Saudi relations are actually too bad for such measures. Expelling diplomats is a symbolic measure, and the Turks are beyond that.
The Turkish governments can accept the Saudi government killing people on Saudi soil, but it can never accept the Saudi (or any other government) involved in violent acts in Turkey. No government in the world can accept that. That is just because a government needs to have exclusive control over matters of violence and justice, it is what makes a government, without that exclusive control it would not be a government. The Saudi actions are therefore a direct attack on the Turkish state, and the Turkish state can not leave that unanswered, especially since the Saudi actions are now publicly known.

No, it was absolutely not based on Shi’a versus Sunni, it was political with respect to the revolutionary regime.

As the guardians of the two holy sites, the Ibn Saud have taken the access very seriously to avoid backlash, and have not restricted access based on sectarian.


You also forgot to mention he went in and never came out, although a Saudi with a superficial resemblance came out wearing his clothes. A investigative team went in and did not find him or his body but did find a freshly painted room. one of the Saudi team going into the embassy before Kashoggi was allegedly carrying luggage that include a bone saw.
I agree. The Turks’ goal is to make the Saudis look bad to everyone else, especially western voters. This raises their prestige by comparison. As one talking head said, “who would have thought the one driving the condemnation of persecuting a journalist would be the Turkish government?” Only as long as it serves their purposes, of course. There’s no points to be made by expelling the Saudis. That’s a move that’s designed to “teach a lesson” so it doesn’t happen again. The points are made by making them look bad. If they do it again - well, more points to be made in the West.

It is a pretty extreme thing to completely oust an entire embassy staff from a country.

In general embassies are seen as a means to maintain a diplomatic line between two countries. Even two countries that do not like each other. Letting them stay is not in any way saying you agree or condone anything the other side does. It merely accepts the realpolitik fact that they serve a useful purpose and getting rid of them is usually a last step before you are at war with the other side.

I could see them (Turkey) maybe declaring the Saudi ambassador persona non-grata. Sends a message. That one leaves, a new one replaces him/her.