Turkey on Tuesday accused the United Arab Emirates of bringing chaos to the Middle East through its interventions in Libya and Yemen, allegations that are likely to inflame tensions between the regional rivals, Reuters reported.
Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu was responding to criticism of Turkey’s role in the Libyan conflict, where it has deployed military personnel and helped send Syrian fighters to support the internationally recognized government in Tripoli.
The United Arab Emirates and Egypt, which back the forces of Khalifa Haftar trying to storm the Libyan capital, issued a joint statement with Greece, Cyprus and France on Monday condemning “Turkey’s military interference in Libya.”
Çavuşoğlu told a Turkish broadcaster that the United Arab Emirates, along with Egypt and other countries he did not name, were “trying to destabilize the whole region,” but he singled out Abu Dhabi for particular criticism.
“If you are asking who is destabilizing this region, who is bringing chaos, then we would say Abu Dhabi without any hesitation,” he said. “It is a reality that they are the force that unsettled Libya and destroyed Yemen.”
Ties between Turkey and the United Arab Emirates have been strained by Ankara’s support for Qatar after four Arab countries including the UAE imposed sanctions on Doha in 2017 over its alleged support for Islamist militants, which Qatar denies.
The UAE sees itself as a bulwark against political forms of Islam, and views Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Islamist-rooted ruling party as a supporter of groups like the Muslim Brotherhood, which it opposes.
In Libya, where the UN says it has supplied aircraft and military vehicles to Haftar, the UAE called on all parties last month to commit to a UN-supervised political process to end the war.
Çavuşoğlu also accused the UAE of supporting Islamist Al Shabab militants in Somalia, where Turkey has a military base and is training Somali troops.
The UAE had trained hundreds of Somali troops since 2014 as part of an effort boosted by an African Union military mission to defeat an Islamist insurgency until Somalia disbanded the program in 2018.