Analysts: UAE targets Turkey, Qatar in region for sake of own regional policies

YUNUS PAKSOY @yunuspaksoy
Published 13.06.2017 23:50
Updated 14.06.2017 00:22

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has taken aim at Turkey and Qatar by picking on the two countries in several ways because it poses a threat to its goals in the region, analysts claim. Turkey and Qatar have been locked in a dispute with the UAE for a while. Abu Dhabi has allegedly funded different groups to topple the Turkish president and government and imposed sanctions on Qatar, cutting off all diplomatic ties with the small Arab Peninsula country. Ankara and Doha have a lot in common regarding regional policies, economic relations and diplomatic ties.

However, the UAE seems to be the antagonist as the two countries forge a regional alliance.

Abu Dhabi is accused of having transferred money to groups that attempted to topple President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and supporting the coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, 2016.

The United Arab Emirates has had problems with Qatar as well. It has recently severed its ties with the country, accusing Doha of backing radical terrorism. The UAE was also among the countries that declared a list of terrorists linked to Qatar last week.

Both Ankara and Doha have been foes with Abu Dhabi rather than allies in the region.

"The UAE is trying to undermine the power of Turkey and Qatar by using different assets on different levels. Its strategic goal is to change the behavior of the two rivalries or changing their regimes. Or breaking the Turkish-Qatari alliance," said Taguia Haoues, a researcher at the Al Jazeera Center for Studies.

"It is no secret that the UAE is against every shade of political Islamic force and pro-change camp in the region. And it sees Turkey as part of this bloc," Galip Dalay, the director of the Istanbul-based Al Sharq Forum, said.

The two countries see eye-to-eye on different issues. The regional policies of Ankara and Doha are allegedly an obstacle for Abu Dhabi.

"Qatar is being targeted primarily because it is acting as an autonomous political actor in the Gulf, which supports both the Arab Spring phenomenon and the moderate political Islamic forces. This is a position that is shared by Turkey and fiercely rejected by the UAE," Dalay asserted.

Meanwhile, Haoues argues that Qatar and Turkey have the same aspirations in the Middle East.

"Turkey and Qatar think that authoritarian regimes are the cause of violence and radicalism. A sustainable stability can be guaranteed by encouraging the moderate movements to participate in legal activities and the democratic system. The Turkish experience is a perfect example of this strategy," the researcher suggested, adding that the UAE is "totally against it."

The claims about the UAE supporting the attempted coup in Turkey last summer surfaced after emails from Yousef Al- Otaiba, the United Arab Emirates' ambassador to the United States, were stolen earlier in June.

In one of the stolen emails, senior counselor John Hannah of the pro-Israel, neo-conservative think tank the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) sent Otaiba an article claiming that both the UAE and FDD were responsible for the July 15 military coup attempt in Turkey, saying he is "honored to be in the UAE's company."

Also, a columnist for the Turkish Yeni Şafak daily claimed on Monday that Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu hinted at "a Muslim country" funneling $3 billion to groups willing to topple President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the democratically elected government. The Turkish Foreign Ministry confirmed that the "Muslim country" was the UAE, the columnist said.

"Leaks confirm the analysis of the contradiction between Turkey and the UAE on vital issues regarding regional security," Haoues said, adding that the difference of opinion between Ankara and Abu Dhabi might have led to the latter's role in the coup attempt.

"The recently leaked emails of the UAE's ambassador to the U.S. confirms the allegations that the UAE has been involved in anti-Turkey lobbying activities. Particularly the exchanges between the UAE ambassador and the pro-Israeli think tank Foundation for Defense of Democracies' executives, validates this point," Dalay said.

"Turkey is pro-Arab spring but the UAE is against it. Turkey supported the elected government in Egypt but the UAE participated in toppling former Egyptian President Muhammed Morsi. They have a contradictory approach to regional security. So it is understandable that the UAE views Turkey as an obstacle in its way," the Al Jazeera researcher added.

The UAE cut off all ties with Qatar last week. In addition, a joint statement from Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates accused 59 individuals and 12 charity organizations in Qatar of having links to terrorism. The list includes the International Union of Muslim Scholars' Egyptian chairman, Yousef el-Qaradawi, and Abdullah bin Khalid, a former interior minister of Qatar.

Also, Abu Dhabi's state-owned Etihad Airways said it suspended all flights to and from Doha until further notice. The move was interpreted as isolating the small Arab Peninsula country, imposing a blockade on the country.

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