ABU DHABI: A UAE official on Saturday urged Turkey to stop interfering in Arab affairs, mockingly referring to the Ottoman empire which collapsed a century ago.
The backlash came after Turkey condemned what it termed “malicious” actions by the UAE in Libya, where the two countries support opposing sides in its grinding conflict. Anwar Gargash, minister of state for foreign affairs, called on Turkey “to stop intervening in Arab affairs.”
Turkey can no longer behave like “the Sublime Porte and use the language of colonialism,” he said, referring to the government of the Ottoman empire which ruled the Arab world for centuries.
“The Sublime Porte and colonialist illusions belong to the archives of history... and relations between states are not conducted with threats,” Gargash wrote.
Turkey backs the UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) in western Libya, while the forces of eastern-based strongman Khalifa Haftar are supported by the UAE, Egypt and Russia.
“Abu Dhabi does what it does in Libya, does what it does in Syria. All of it is being recorded. At the right place and time, the accounts will be settled,” Turkey’s Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said in an interview.
“It is necessary to ask Abu Dhabi, where this hostility, where these intentions, where this jealousy comes from,” he said, quoted Friday on the Turkish Defense Ministry’s website.
Tensions have been steadily rising in the Libyan conflict in recent weeks, with Egypt threatening it would launch a military intervention if GNA forces try to capture their next target — the coastal city of Sirte, currently held by Haftar’s troops.
Recently, the US military said that Russia appeared to be sending more military equipment to its mercenaries in Libya, including Sirte, in breach of an arms embargo.
Its Africa Command said there was mounting evidence from satellite pictures of Moscow’s military cargo planes, including IL-6s, bringing supplies to fighters from the Russian Wagner Group.
Both sides have been mobilizing forces around Sirte where any major new escalation could risk drawing major regional powers further into Libya’s messy conflict.
Libya has been torn by violence since the 2011 ouster of long-time dictator Muammar Qaddafi in a NATO-backed uprising, and the conflict has since drawn in multiple foreign powers.
التصريح الإستفزازي لوزير الدفاع التركي سقوط جديد لدبلوماسية بلاده. منطق الباب العالي والدولة العليّة وفرماناتها مكانه الأرشيف التاريخي. فالعلاقات لا تدار بالتهديد والوعيد، ولا مكان للأوهام الاستعمارية في هذا الزمن، والأنسب أن تتوقف تركيا عن تدخلها في الشأن العربي.
— د. أنور قرقاش (@AnwarGargash) August 1, 2020