Twitter feud: UAE diplomat says Arabs won’t be led by Turkey

Anwar Gargash UAE
Abu Dhabi (MEE– A senior UAE diplomat said on Wednesday that the Arab world would not be led by Turkey, the Gulf state’s first comment on Ankara since a quarrel broke out last week over a retweet by the Emirati foreign minister that President Tayyip Erdogan called an insult.

Anwar Gargash, minister of state for foreign affairs of UAE, said there is a need to rally around the “Arab axis” of Saudi Arabia and Egypt to ward off regional powers that wish to expand their influence at the expense of the Arab World.

Anwar Gargash UAE
UAE Diplomat Anwar Gargash
Image: Flickr – Chatham House

“The Arab world will not be led by Tehran or Ankara,” he wrote on his official Twitter page.

Last week, Turkey summoned the charge d’affaires at the UAE embassy in Ankara, after UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahayan shared a tweet that accused Turkish troops of looting the holy city of Medina a century ago.

Erdogan himself lashed out: “Some impertinent man sinks low and goes as far as accusing our ancestors of thievery … What spoiled this man? He was spoiled by oil, by the money he has,” the Turkish leader said at an awards ceremony.

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Turkey’s state-run Anadolu newspaper reported on Saturday that Turkey planned to rename the street where the UAE embassy is located in Ankara after Fakhreddin Pasha, the commander of the Ottoman Turkish troops at Medina in 1916.

Medina, the holiest site in Islam after Mecca, is in what is now Saudi Arabia.

Fakhreddin Pasha held Medina for more than two years of siege by the British-backed forces of Sharif Hussein, who revolted against the Ottoman Empire during the First World War.

“Officials in some countries who lack respect for boundaries, historical knowledge, and diplomatic etiquette cannot overshadow the brotherhood that links us to Arab people,” Erdogan tweeted in Arabic last week in an apparent reference to the UAE foreign minister.

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The UAE sees itself as a bulwark against political forms of Islam and views Erdogan’s ruling AK party as a supporter of groups like the Muslim Brotherhood.

Abu Dhabi has also been accused of being involved in a failed coup against Erdogan last year. Moreover, the UAE and Saudi Arabia have led a blockade against Qatar, a major ally of Turkey.

Ankara has established a military base in Qatar as a part of a joint-defense agreement. Shutting down that base is one of 13 demands by the UAE, Saudi, Bahrain, and Egypt to lift their sanctions against Qatar.

This post was originally written for and published by Middle East Eye.