What Turkey has in store for the UAE

by Yahya Bostan
Columns May 27, 2020


Had it not been for the coronavirus pandemic, Turkey would be focused on the situation in Libya, where some very important developments are taking place. When Libya’s United Nations-recognized, legitimate government, led by Fayez al-Sarraj, asked for Turkish support, Ankara devised a three-step plan for the Libyans. Accordingly, Turkey would intervene in the Libyan conflict, help the Libyan Army secure Tripoli and its outskirts to force Khalifa Haftar’s forces to stop, and finally, defeat the putschist general to compel him to negotiate terms. Last week, I wrote that the Turks had updated their original plan due to their rapid success and decided to put Haftar out of business due to his refusal to accept a cease-fire.

For now, everything is going according to the Turkish plan. The warlord Haftar’s lines of defense around Tripoli have collapsed and his forces have begun retreating. According to local sources, the Russian contractor Wagner Group’s mercenaries have been evacuated from western Libya due to the most recent developments. In other words, Haftar appears to have aborted his mission to take the Libyan capital in order to reinforce the eastern provinces and hold onto his possessions there.

There is much more to be said about the situation in Libya, yet I would like to discuss another matter. As you already know, the United Arab Emirates and its dark prince, Mohammed bin Zayed, are among Haftar’s most ardent supporters. Also known as MBZ, the Emirati crown prince has close ties to his Saudi counterpart, Mohammad bin Salman, and has been directly involved in certain crimes. Indeed, Prince Mohammed is one of the root causes of instability in the Middle East today. Specifically, he develops and sponsors anti-Turkey policies in the region.

Among other things, the UAE has been violating the U.N.’s arms embargo to deliver weapons and cash to Haftar. The country uses its financial power to bankroll anti-Turkish lobbyists around the world. The recipients of Emirati cash include a troll army, known as “the flies,” as well as anti-Turkish media outlets. The UAE also endorsed the 2013 military coup in Egypt and offered financial support to Turkey’s adversaries. Needless to say, Abu Dhabi is among state sponsors of the terrorist organization PKK, which directly targets Turkey, as well as the YPG, the group’s Syrian affiliate. The tiny, oil-rich Gulf country has also been trying to carry out intelligence operations on Turkish soil. Let us recall that Turkey arrested several UAE agents in recent months.

In the face of Emirati aggression, will Turkey simply turn the other cheek? According to senior Turkish journalist Hakan Çelik, the country is preparing to deliver a very strong response, directly and indirectly, to the UAE’s actions. Çelik warns that “Ankara, which has been waiting patiently for the UAE to change its course, could hurt that country by resorting to a surprise method.”

Has the Turkish government decided to respond to the UAE’s aggression after waiting patiently for a long time? If so, how does it intend to hurt Abu Dhabi? My sources in Ankara keep their cards close to their chests but point out that “Turkey does not forget its enemies or friends.” Yet they offer no insights into Ankara’s plan to settle the score with the UAE. Despite their reluctance to share concrete information, Turkish officials make no attempt to hide their anger over the UAE’s destabilizing policies.



Categories: Libya, Turkey, Turks, UAE

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