Duvar English – Reuters

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu has accused the United Arab Emirates of trying to openly attack Turkey, allegations which are likely to inflame tensions between the regional rivals.

In an interview on May 12, Çavuşoğlu also accused Abu Dhabi of bringing chaos to the Middle East through its interventions in Libya and Yemen.

“If you are asking who is destabilizing this region, who is bringing chaos, then we would say Abu Dhabi without any hesitation. They’re trying to openly attack us from time to time, but we warned them to not cross the line,” he said.

“It is a reality that they are the force that unsettled Libya and destroyed Yemen. They’re blocking the aid we’ve been sending,” Çavuşoğlu added.

‘Destabilize the whole region’

The minister was responding to criticism of Turkey’s role in the Libyan conflict, where it has deployed military personnel and helped send Syrian rebels 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 May 11 condemning “Turkey’s military interference in Libya.”

Çavuşoğlu told Islamist broadcaster Akit TV 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.

The UAE did not immediately respond to Çavuşoğlu’s criticism.

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 ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) as a supporter of groups like the Muslim Brotherhood which it opposes.

In Libya, where the U.N. says it has supplied aircraft and military vehicles to Haftar, the UAE called on all parties last month to commit to a U.N.-supervised political process to end the war.

The United Arab Emirates was also a leading power in an alliance which intervened in Yemen five years ago against the Iran-aligned Houthi movement. It reduced its presence in Yemen last year but remains a member of that alliance.

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 programme in 2018.

Çavuşoğlu made his comments after the foreign ministry in Ankara condemned the statement by the five countries and accused France of “attempting to be the patron of this axis of malice.”