Turkey: Official slams UAE’s Gargash over Twitter comments
Turkish MP Conkar accuses ‘some circles in the UAE’ of leading a lobbying campaign against Ankara.
Turkish and United Arab Emirates (UAE) officials traded fresh barbs on Sunday after a top diplomat in Abu Dhabi accused Ankara of not respecting the sovereignty of its Arab neighbours.
Anwar Gargash, the UAE minister of state for foreign affairs, took to Twitter on Saturday, saying Arab-Turkish relations were “not at their best”, adding that Ankara should “respect Arab sovereignty”.
In reaction, Ahmet Berat Conkar, a senior MP of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party), called Gargash’s comments “baseless” and “unfortunate”.
“This official cannot speak on behalf of Arabs in general; he can only speak regarding the country he represents. He should know his place in that respect,” Conkar told Al Jazeera.
“We have a large circle of friends in the Arab geography. We cooperate with a large number of Arab countries,” said Conkar, who is also a member of the Turkish parliament’s foreign affairs committee.
Gargash, on his Twitter account, called on Ankara to “deal with its neighbours in a wise and rational manner in order to return to balance.”
“Opposition to the main Arab states and supporting movements that seek to change regimes by violence do not represent a rational approach to the neighbourhood, and Ankara is required to respect the sovereignty and respect of the Arab states,” he added in a series of tweets.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been a major supporter of Qatar since Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt severed diplomatic ties and trade relations with Qatar on June 5.
Relations between Turkey and the three Gulf states acting against Qatar have since turned sour.
The four Arab countries accused Doha of supporting “terrorism” and fostering ties with their regional rival, Iran. Qatar denies the accusations.
Turkey has built a military base in Qatar in line with an agreement signed in 2014.
Shortly after the diplomatic crisis erupted, Turkey’s parliament fast-tracked bills for troop deployment to and military training cooperation with Qatar.
Ankara also supported the Arab Gulf state by providing necessary products blocked from entering by its neighbours.
‘Lobbying against Turkey’
Conkar denied Gargash’s claim that Ankara supports regime change through violence, adding that the UAE backed such a change in the case of the 2013 coup in Egypt.
“This [accusation towards Turkey] is coming from a country that openly supported the coup in Egypt. The UAE backs the military government there, which overthrew a democratically elected government by carrying out massacres,” he told Al Jazeera.
The UAE follows policies against political forms of Islam and openly took a stance against the democratically elected Muslim Brotherhood-dominated administration in Egypt before and at the time of the coup.
Conkar also said: “Certain circles with ulterior motives in these countries [UAE, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain] have apparently been ganging up and lobbying against Turkey. And it seems that the UAE circles are taking the lead in these efforts.”
He added that such bilateral discussions should be through political channels in line with diplomatic practices, not through media channels.
Erdogan had lashed out at the UAE’s foreign minister in December after he retweeted a post accusing troops led by Ottoman commander Fahreddin Pasha of “ransacking” the holy city of Medina about a century ago.
“This man is spoiled with petrol and spoiled with money. While my ancestors were busy defending Medina, you impudent man, what were your ancestors doing? You should account for this first,” Erdogan said.
The city, which houses the Prophet Muhammad’s tomb and is revered by Muslims, was ruled by the Ottomans until they were defeated by the British and their Arab allies in World War I.
Follow Umut Uras on Twitter: @Um_Uras