It appears that Trump is in the thrall of the House of Saud just as much as his 3-4 predecessors:
The White House is looking for ways to remove an enemy of Turkish President Recep Erdogan from the U.S. in order to placate Turkey over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, according to two senior U.S. officials and two other people briefed on the requests.
Trump administration officials last month asked federal law enforcement agencies to examine legal ways of removing exiled Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen in an attempt to persuade Erdogan to ease pressure on the Saudi government, the four sources said.
The effort includes directives to the Justice Department and FBI that officials reopen Turkey’s case for his extradition, as well as a request to the Homeland Security Department for information about his legal status, the four people said.
“At first there were eye rolls, but once they realized it was a serious request, the career guys were furious,” said a senior U.S. official involved in the process.
The secret effort to resolve one of the leading tensions in U.S.-Turkey relations — Gulen’s residency in the U.S. — provides a window into how President Donald Trump is trying to navigate hostility between two key allies after Saudi officials murdered Khashoggi on Oct. 2 at the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul.
It suggests the White House could be looking for ways to contain Erdogan’s ire over the murder while preserving Trump’s close alliance with Saudi Arabia’s controversial de facto leader, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Erdogan, meanwhile, has kept the pressure up by leaking pieces of evidence and repeatedly speaking out to accuse Prince Mohammed of orchestrating the murder of Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist and outspoken critic of the Saudi leadership.
Erdogan has for years demanded the U.S. send Gulen back to Turkey. The Turkish leader accuses the elderly cleric of being a terrorist who was behind a failed coup against Erdogan’s government in 2016. After the coup attempt, Ankara made a formal request to the U.S. for Gulen’s extradition.
Gulen, who has lived in self-imposed exile in the U.S. for almost two decades, denies any involvement in the failed coup in Turkey in 2016. A one-time ally of Erdogan, he’s become an influential cleric with a wide network of followers known as “Gulenistas.” His movement includes a host of nonprofit organizations, businesses and schools, in the U.S., as well as South Africa.
So, Erdogon is using the US’s desperation to make the uproar about Saudi misdeeds go away to secury policy concessions.
So not a surprise, and it is not a deviation from prior US foreign policy, but it does show that the US policy with regard to both Turkey and the House of Saud are miserable failures.