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Turkey accuses UAE of spreading 'chaos' in the Middle East

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu says UAE is the force that 'unsettled Libya and destroyed Yemen'
Smoke rises from buildings in the Libyan capital Tripoli after shelling by forces loyal to Khalifa Haftar (AFP/File photo)

Turkey has accused the United Arab Emirates (UAE) of "bringing chaos" to the Middle East through its interventions in Libya and Yemen, claims which are likely to stoke further tensions between the two regional rivals.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told Akit TV on Tuesday that the UAE, Egypt and other countries were "trying to destabilise the whole region". 

'If you are asking who is destabilising this region, who is bringing chaos, then we would say Abu Dhabi without any hesitation'

- Mevlut Cavusoglu, Turkish Foreign Minister

"If you are asking who is destabilising this region, who is bringing chaos, then we would say Abu Dhabi without any hesitation," he said.

"It is a reality that they are the force that unsettled Libya and destroyed Yemen."

Turkey has sent military personnel to Tripoli to support the internationally recognised government, also known as the GNA. It has also assisted in sending Syrian fighters to bolster GNA lines.  

Meanwhile, the UAE and Egypt have backed eastern military commander Khalifa Haftar, whose self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) has been trying to storm the Libyan capital and unseat the GNA government. 

On Monday, the UAE issued a joint statement along with Egypt, Greece, Cyprus and France, condemning "Turkey's military interference in Libya".

Turkey's foreign ministry condemned the statement on Tuesday, accusing France of "attempting to be the patron of this axis of malice".

Rivals on multiple fronts

Last month, the UAE called on all parties to commit to a UN-supervised political process to end the war in Libya, despite the fact that the UN has heavily criticised the Gulf country for supplying aircraft and military vehicles to Haftar. 

On Monday night, four GNA fighters were killed in a UAE drone strike that hit the coastal city of Misrata, a few hours southeast of Tripoli. A GNA spokesperson said the drone had targeted the group's forces at the Abu Qarin airbase.

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The strike came after GNA aircraft had targeted the LNA-controlled al-Watiya airbase, one of Haftar's last remaining strongholds in western Libya, which GNA forces have been trying to retake

Relations between Turkey and the UAE have been strained in recent years since Gulf countries and Egypt placed an embargo on Qatar in 2017.

The UAE often portrays itself as a defensive line against political forms of Islam, and views Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan's Islamist-rooted AK Party as a supporter of groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood, which the Emirates oppose.

On Tuesday, Cavusoglu again accused the UAE of supporting 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.

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