UAE crown prince to visit Turkey amid strained relations

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Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, the UAE’s de facto ruler,  is expected to visit Turkey for talks with President Tayyip Erdoğan on Nov. 24, amid strained ties between the regional rivals over a series of issues, the Independent Turkish reported on Monday, citing Turkish foreign ministry officials.

Al-Nahyan was expected to arrive in Turkey on Monday morning, according to UAE sources, but Turkish Foreign Ministry officials told Independent Turkish that the visit may take place next week, on Nov. 24.

The last time Al-Nahyan paid a visit to Ankara was in 2012, when Erdoğan was prime minister.

Following a failed coup in Turkey in July 2016, Erdoğan accused the UAE of financing the coup plotters.

“We know very well who in the Gulf was happy about the coup attempt and spent a lot of money on its execution,” Erdoğan said at the time without mentioning the UAE by name.

Turkey also accuses the UAE of undermining its interests in Libya, which has been  embroiled in a civil war between the UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) and the eastern-based Libyan National Army (LNA). Turkey supports the GNA militarily, while the UAE along with Russia back the LNA and its leader, Gen. Khalifa Haftar, who recently stepped down to run for president in elections slated for Dec. 24.

Turkey’s relations with the UAE have been also strained due to the scandalous revelations of a notorious Turkish mafia boss, Sedat Peker, who is currently in exile in the UAE.

Peker, once a staunch supporter of President Erdoğan who has been making shocking revelations about state-mafia relations, drug trafficking and murders implicating state officials and their family members, has since June been making them on Twitter instead of YouTube since officials in the UAE told him not to release any more YouTube videos defaming politicians in another country.

There are claims that Peker might have to leave the UAE following al-Nahyan’s visit to Ankara due to the pressure from the Turkish government.

In a sign of a potential improvement in ties, Erdoğan and al-Nahyan talked on the phone in August and discussed relations between the two countries and regional issues.

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