UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said on Saturday that Turkey should stop interfering in Arab affairs, criticising comments on Libya made by Turkey’s defence minister.
Turkish media had reported the Turkish minister making remarks critical of the UAE’s actions over Libya.
The comments come after Turkey sent between 3,500 and 3,800 Syrian mercenaries to Libya over the first three months of the year, the US Defence Department’s inspector general concluded in a new report.
The quarterly report on counter-terrorism operations in Africa by the Pentagon’s internal watchdog, published last month, is its first to detail Turkish involvement in Libya’s war.
It says Turkey paid and offered citizenship to thousands of mercenaries fighting alongside Tripoli-based militias against troops of the Libyan National Army.
It says they were “very likely” motivated by generous financial packages rather than ideology or politics.
In January, the UAE’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation condemned a Turkish parliamentary vote that authorized the troop deployment to Libya in support of the government in Tripoli.
In a statement, the ministry said the intervention represented “a clear threat to Arab national security and the stability of the Mediterranean region”.
The vote, which passed 325 to 184 during an extraordinary session of the Turkish parliament, gave President Recep Tayyip Erdogan a year to decide on how to militarily support the internationally-recognised government of Government of National Accord.
Sending Turkish troops is aimed at “eliminating attacks on the interests of Turkey and Libya by illegal armed groups and terrorist organisations,” the resolution said.
The UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Co-operation warned that Turkey is playing a “dangerous role” by supporting extremist and terrorist organisations and “transporting extremist elements to Libya”.
“The provocative statement of the Turkish Minister of Defense is a new [failure for] his country’s diplomacy… “Relations are not managed by threats, instructions and there is no place for colonialist delusions in this day and age,and it is more appropriate for Turkey to stop interfering in Arab affairs,” Anwar Gargash wrote on Twitter.