The most immediate matter is Turkey’s economy. The lira has lost 40 percent of its value, inflation has soared to a 15-year high, and massive debt repayments are coming due in short order. In exchange for softening the tone of his criticism and going along with a diplomatic resolution to the Khashoggi crisis, Saudi Arabia might feel inclined to boost its investments in Turkey and perhaps help refinance the debt. The U.S. might help, as well.
Qatar, with whom Erdogan sided in its refit with Riyadh, has agreed to help. But its $15 billion offer amounts to less than 10 percent of the debt coming due.
By championing justice for Khashoggi, Erdogan can burnish his tarnished image. The man who crushed all dissent at home can claim to fight for the rule of law; a country that leads the world in jailing journalists appear to spearhead the quest for justice in the killing of a journalist.
It doesn’t hurt that, like Erdogan, Khashoggi was a supporter of political Islam. Erdogan now very subtly reinforces his position in support of Islamist politics, but he can also lessen the cost he has incurred for his advocacy on behalf of the Muslim Brotherhood, despite the Saudis’ implacable antipathy toward the group.