The UAE has been the spearhead in the wars against the Arab nations demanding freedom, justice and equality. It has been entrusted with the task of destabilising the region, fighting Islam around the world and acting in the vanguard of the counter-revolutions against the Arab Spring.
Although small in size, it has a leader with limitless ambitions in Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed, without whom it could not fulfil its role. He basically deposed his brother, Khalifa Bin Zayed, and took over the reins with the blessing of the US. Such individuals are willing to sacrifice everything to achieve their objectives, which are usually catastrophic for the rest of us. He is the latest in a line of people put in place by the enemies of the Arab and Muslim nations to strike a blow from within. The US and its Western allies choose and train such people before they are assigned to their tasks. In Bin Zayed they found the right man for the job. He can’t abide the thought of another, more capable, leader in the Muslim world.
Therein lies the reason for his personal animosity towards Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The latter is an enemy who must be fought with all of the power, money and media at Bin Zayed’s disposal. The media is the most powerful weapon in the modern era, and the UAE has dozens of satellite networks, newspapers, magazines, news sites and research centres pushing their poison. They have recruited dozens of Arab intellectuals and media professionals have sold their souls to the devil’s petrodollars in order to destroy Erdogan in the eyes and minds of the Arab people, and portray him as a terrorist who wants to occupy their land and plunder its wealth and bounties, as a “neo-Ottoman coloniser”. In doing so they have falsified history and portrayed the Ottoman era, which spanned six centuries, as an invasion and occupation, not as a great conquest of the Islamic state. The intention is to divert attention away from the Arab world’s great enemy, Israel, and direct it towards Turkey, represented by Erdogan. The UAE-sponsored objective is to promote the “Israel is not the enemy,” narrative; that “it is a friend with whom we have common interests and fight terrorism together.” Turkey, meanwhile, is portrayed as the enemy that sponsors and finances terrorism.
There is no doubt that this pleases the US and the West, which are concerned about the rise of Turkey politically, economically and militarily under Erdogan and his party. Such “Islamists” have departed from the Western-approved approach and have their own policies and strategies specific to Turkish interests, not the West’s.
Israel is perfectly happy about this. “They [the Arabs] don’t see Israel as their enemy any longer,” said Benjamin Netanyahu, “but as their indispensable ally in standing up to Iranian aggression.” The Israeli Prime Minister noted that they see Israel as a “vital ally” in the fight against “terrorism either led by Daesh or led by Iran.”
Although Israel no longer has to assign any weight to the Arabs who have slipped into its lair seeking protection and normalisation of relations, it still fears Turkey, despite diplomatic relations as a legacy of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk and the expansion of economic relations in recent years. Neither Israel nor its friends in the West want Turkey to have control over its own sovereignty and decision-making as long as the Turkish Armed Forces remain a major threat. “Iranian power is fragile,” Mossad Director Yossi Cohen told a number of Egyptian, Saudi and Emirati diplomats last year. “The real threat comes from Turkey.”
Hence, Israel, the US and their functionaries in the UAE are agreed on the need to remove Erdogan from the scene so that Turkey can return to the West once again and be obedient, as Arab states are. The UAE has spent tens of billions of dollars to buy people in the hope of bringing Erdogan down through the ballot box, but failed. It then turned to non-democratic means, and funded the 2016 coup attempt by the Gülen movement in 2016; it failed again. It is hard to forget, though, that Emirati satellite channels broadcasting from Dubai and Egypt hinted at the coup hours before it took place and claimed that Erdogan had fled by plane to Germany. They also broadcast fake news about the army’s control of the government and the newspapers were printed the next day with false headlines. Of course, Ankara will not forget Abu Dhabi’s position, or America’s negative stance towards the failed coup.
After that failure, the UAE tried to destabilise Turkey and endanger its national security by playing the Kurdish card, so it funded the Qasd forces that are dominated by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units, which is an arm of the terrorist PKK. The PKK wants to separate from Turkey and establish a Kurdish state, and was trained in Israel. Its leadership has coordinated the attack on Turkish forces in northern Syria with Riyadh and Abu Dhabi. Recent leaks suggest that the UAE paid $250 million to bribe the regime of the killer Bashar Al-Assad to violate the ceasefire in Idlib — that the Russians arranged with the Turks — in order to distract Turkey from its other front in Libya. The internationally recognised GNA forces, supported by Turkey, achieved quick victories, tipped the scales on the ground and changed the political equation against the rebel Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar and his mercenaries funded by the UAE.
Abu Dhabi’s functional role does not end there. It wants to involve Egypt in Libya (just as Saudi Arabia is involved in Yemen) in order for the Egyptian and Turkish armed forces to confront each other on Libyan soil. Who will benefit from this battle that the UAE is instigating? Which country wants to weaken the two strongest armies in the region and push them into a war in which even the winner will emerge weaker and defeated. I can almost assure you that Cairo and Ankara are too smart to fall into this most malicious of traps, despite the fiery rhetoric of their officials.
This may well be what prompted Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar recently to threaten the UAE with holding it accountable for its actions at the right time and place. Turkey has run out of patience, and has sent a clear message to the UAE and its supporters that it will deal with the Gulf State strongly and in a language that it understands.
What form will that take? Will this be a settling of accounts on Arab land wherein Arab people will pay the price in their blood, or will it just take place in the UAE? Turkey has surrounded it with military agreements and has military bases in Kuwait and Oman, as well as Qatar. All will, I believe, soon be revealed. The UAE is definitely working against Turkey, but for how long?
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.