Ankara takes steps to repair difficult relations with the United Arab Emirates


Ankara takes steps to repair difficult relations with the United Arab Emirates

Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan review a guard of honor, Ankara, Turkey, November 24, 2021. (Reuters)

It seems that Turkey has taken the right steps to repair its relations with the United Arab Emirates. Their relations deteriorated when Ankara began to openly support the Muslim Brotherhood in various countries in the Middle East.

The UAE politely informed Turkey that it was unhappy with its attitude, but Ankara ignored these warnings. After the failed military coup of 2016, no blame was spared in harshly criticizing the rulers of the United Arab Emirates. Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said in no uncertain terms that the July 15 plot was carried out on the instructions of the United States and the United Arab Emirates.

In the Libyan war, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates fought on opposite sides. The latter also participated last year in a major military exercise organized by Greece, inspiring a chorus of criticism against the United Arab Emirates in all sectors of Turkish public opinion.

In 2020, the United States, as part of the Abraham Accords, took an initiative to normalize relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco. But, for inexplicable reasons, Turkey opposed the Abraham Accords and harshly criticized the plans. He rejected the establishment of diplomatic relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, while maintaining relations with both. This is a rare example of a country criticizing the establishment of diplomatic relations between two third countries.

Ankara has also criticized the UAE’s 2018 reopening of its embassy in Damascus. A pro-government social media user, speaking to the United Arab Emirates, wrote: “This rapid change came immediately after the US withdrawal from Syria, the abandonment of the groups you were funding and after the success of Turkey. in Syria”, without specifying what was the success of Turkey in Syria. .

All that criticism has now died down and thankfully there has been a sea change.

There is now a huge potential for cooperation between Turkey and the UAE and it was high time they realized it. They are both states with moderate foreign policy leanings, except for Turkey’s strong bias in favor of the Muslim Brotherhood. Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party, known as the AKP, has ideological affinities with the movement.

Several factors facilitated the normalization of relations. Both sides had reached the limit of adversarial policies toward each other before realizing that strained relations did not serve their national interests. The Libyan crisis also acted as a catalyst, as they were fighting for an undefined cause with uncertain results.

The Abraham Accords herald a future that could bring about major change in the Middle East. It is not yet clear how successful they will be, but at least they are likely to create an opportunity to defuse tensions in the region.

Reshaping the Middle East is an ambitious goal, but Turkey and the United Arab Emirates can contribute to these efforts within their own limits. As the most isolated country in the region, Turkey could use this opportunity to improve its strained relations with other nations.

Diplomatic improvements often take place when relations are at their lowest. This is what happened between Turkey and the UAE. Turkey’s unnecessary accusations against the rulers of the United Arab Emirates will remain in the archives – and hopefully will not be revealed again.

Opposition political parties in Turkey have welcomed efforts to improve relations, but they did not miss the opportunity to point to the ruling party’s previous rush to use a less than polite narrative regarding the rulers of the Arab Emirates. United.

The current thaw between Turkey and the United Arab Emirates began with a visit to Ankara by the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, last November. The Crown Prince announced that the United Arab Emirates would create a $10 billion fund to be used in Turkey. This amount may seem large, but in the context of Turkey’s huge foreign exchange needs, it is negligible.

Reshaping the Middle East is an ambitious goal, but Turkey and the United Arab Emirates can contribute to these efforts within their own limits.

Yasar Yakis

The UAE is a generous country, but it does not waste its money. It invests after carrying out carefully selected feasibility studies. Therefore, these funds will most likely be used in areas where both parties will benefit.

Thirteen agreements were signed during the visit, covering several areas, including the defense industry, health, climate change, technology, trade and transport.

Ali Babacan, a former deputy prime minister and founding member of the AKP, who has now established his own political party, said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has made a complete U-turn in his policy towards the United Arab Emirates. He openly questioned why Erdogan would attempt to mend relations with the UAE if Abu Dhabi was behind the failed military coup in 2016. He also asked if Erdogan would apologize for the accusation. If it is only a question of money, he must say so openly.

Babacan’s questions will go unanswered, but Turkey and the UAE will get used to the new reality.

  • Yasar Yakis is a former Foreign Minister of Turkey and a founding member of the ruling AK Party. Twitter: @yakis_yasar

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed by the authors in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Arab News


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