Turkey has condemned a statement by the Arab League saying that Ankara is interfering in regional affairs. The allegation is a blow to recent reconciliation efforts between Turkey and the organisation’s members.
The Arab League’s statement was made during a regular session of Arab foreign ministers on Thursday last week, in which they criticised Turkey’s military intervention and presence in countries such as Syria and Libya. They also condemned Ankara for allegedly “hosting extremist groups” and providing them with shelter.
The league called on Turkey to withdraw all of its military forces from the region and to “stop supporting extremist organisations and militias.” Although it was not specified which organisations and militias the statement was referring to, it was likely to be a reference to Ankara’s support for Syrian opposition groups who have been fighting the regime of Bashar Al-Assad over the past decade.
The Turkish foreign ministry hit back by saying that, “The continuation of some members of the Arab League to make clichéd accusations against Turkey in order to hide their ambitions and agendas is of no value to the friendly and brotherly Arab peoples.”
The ministry accused the umbrella group of not reflecting the “positive steps” taken in recent months, as seen in reconciliation efforts and talks between Turkey and Arab states such as Egypt and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
It went on to emphasise Ankara’s goal of “making every effort to preserve the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of Arab countries.” It also maintained that its military operations in the region are legitimate due to their containment of Kurdish militia groups and their support for the Libyan government, adding that to criticise Turkey’s preservation of its national security is “unacceptable and meaningless.”
Last year, the Arab League made a similar statement accusing Turkey of interfering in the region, but four Arab states in particular – Qatar, Libya, Somalia and Djibouti – expressed their reservations about the claim.