Turkey and United Arab Emirates look to overcome tensions over Qatar, Libya and the Arab Spring
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, the de-facto Emirati leader, spoke two weeks after a security delegation from the UAE visited Turkey.
The UAE’s national security adviser Sheikh Tahnoun bin Zayed Al Nahyan’s trip was the first significant public visit to Turkey in years.
UAE presidential adviser Anwar Gargash tweeted that the call was “very positive and friendly”, saying it marked “a new phase in which the UAE seeks to build bridges, maximise commonalities and work together with friends and brothers to guarantee decades of regional stability and prosperity for all”.
Turkey has angered states in the Gulf and Egypt with its support for the Muslim Brotherhood, which took part in the Arab Spring uprisings a decade ago in an attempt to overthrow West Asia’s autocratic regimes. The Islamist movement is seen as a threat and still carries deep popular support in the region.
Egypt and Turkey have had strained ties ever since the Turkish-backed Muslim Brotherhood government of Mohamed Morsi was toppled in 2013.
Ankara is also at odds with Cairo over maritime boundaries in the eastern Mediterranean.
Erdogan, whose AK Party has political Islamic roots, had been a staunch supporter of Morsi.
“It is in everyone’s interest to pursue an agreement-based policy instead of a conflict-based policy. Because the latter has costs. This is an important development,” a senior Turkish official told Reuters in reference to Erdogan’s call.
It was unrealistic to expect to quickly solve long-term issues, the source told the news agency. “But there is a will to solve them. The issues will not worsen, in the short- and medium-term relations will get better.”
Turkey and the UAE have backed opposing sides in the war in Libya but Turkey has been looking to ease tensions in recent months with the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
In 2020 Turkey accused the UAE of bringing chaos to the region through its interventions in Libya and Yemen, while the UAE and its neighbours have condemned Turkey’s military actions.
The Arab blockade of Qatar, a close ally of Turkey, ended earlier this year with the Saudi-brokered al-Ula agreement.
Ankara appointed a new ambassador to Abu Dhabi this year which was followed by a phone call between Emirati foreign minister Abdullah bin Zayed with Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, his Turkish counterpart, in April to mark Ramadan.
The UAE has already eased limits on the movement of Turkish traders and resumed daily flights.
Turkey’s struggling economy would benefit from improved relations with the rest of West Asia. Picture credit: Wikimedia