Erdogan, Bin Zayed discuss Turkey-UAE relations as tensions thaw

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan held a phone call with the UAE’s Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan late Monday in which the two discussed relations between Turkey and the Arab Gulf state.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) state media said that the leaders discussed ways to improve ties between “the two brotherly nations.”

Erdogan previously said that the countries, which have been at odds in several issues, have made progress in bilateral relations in recent months.

The phone call came after the Turkish president received the UAE’s national security adviser, Sheikh Tahnoun bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

“For several months … beginning with our intelligence unit, by holding some talks with the administration of Abu Dhabi, we have arrived at a certain point,” Erdogan also noted.

“I am also considering meeting with Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed,” he added.

The two countries, which backed rival sides in the conflict in Libya, have been bitter rivals for regional influence. Turkey last year accused the UAE of bringing chaos to the Middle East through its interventions in Libya and Yemen, while the UAE and several other countries criticized Turkey’s military actions. Relations between Turkey and the UAE hit an all-time low when Erdogan said that Ankara could suspend diplomatic ties with the Abu Dhabi administration after the UAE-Israel deal.

Turkish officials have said the UAE supports terrorist organizations that target Turkey, using the groups as convenient political and military tools abroad.

The UAE’s aggressive foreign policy led it to be a part of a Saudi-led coalition in Yemen that launched a devastating air campaign to roll back Houthi territorial gains in 2015, further escalating the crisis in the war-torn country.

In Libya, Abu Dhabi backed putschist Gen. Khalifa Haftar and tried to oust the legitimate United Nations-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA). In Syria, it supported the Bashar Assad regime in its offensive against democracy and civil rights.

And in 2017, Abu Dhabi was at the forefront of a regional embargo on Qatar, which the UAE and Saudi Arabia imposed after accusing Doha of supporting the Muslim Brotherhood and being too close to Iran. In January, Abu Dhabi followed Saudi Arabia’s lead in lifting the regional embargo on Qatar.

In June, a report said that UAE seeks to restore ties with Turkey and other regional countries.

Erdogan had reiterated that Turkey hopes to maximize its cooperation with Egypt and Gulf nations “on a win-win basis,” at a time when Ankara intensified diplomacy to mend its fraught ties with Cairo and some Gulf Arab nations after years of tensions.