President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has put himself at odds with domestic and international critics when he defended Saudi Arabia after a stampede that killed 769 pilgrims, saying the disaster should not be blamed on the kingdom.
The stampede occurred at a time when thousands of pilgrims were performing one of the rites of the Hajj outside the Muslim holy city of Mecca. Two Turks are among the dead, and six others remain unaccounted for. But even though the Saudi regime has become the focus of criticism over claims of mismanagement and claims that the stampede was linked to the arrival in Mina of Prince Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud, the Saudi defense minister, and his security entourage, Erdoğan said he was opposed to suggestions that the Saudi regime was at fault since such tragedies could occur during massive events like this anywhere in the world.
Erdoğan refusing to join the criticism of the Saudi administration over its possible negligence in taking the required precautions to prevent the disaster has brought alleged illegal business transactions between the Erdoğan family and the Saudi regime under the spotlight, including the transfer of nearly $100 million to a foundation under the control of Erdoğan's son Bilal.