Alwaght- On 13 August, 2020, the US, Israeli regime, and the UAE have announced formalization of relations between Tel Aviv and Abu Dhabi. The UAE is not the first Arab country to normalize relations with the Israeli regime. Prior to this, Egypt (1979) and Jordan (1994) had adopted this strategy. However, today, regarding concerns about the US-brokered Deal of the Century, the UAE's decision to formalize Ties with Israeli Regime has triggered many reactions around the world.
Bahrain, Egypt, Oman and the European Union welcomed and supported this agreement, but on the other hand, most Islamic countries have strongly stated their opposition to Abu Dhabi. Meantime, one of the main opponents that expressed deep concerns over the normalization of relations between the UAE and the Israeli regime was Turkey. At the outset, Ibrahim Kalin, the president's spokesman and adviser on foreign policy and national security, took a stand, condemning the UAE for a deceitful betrayal of the oppressed Palestinians. Erdogan’s spokesman, Ibrahim Kalin, tweeted on Friday, “History will not forget those who betray the Palestinian people and sell out the Palestinian cause,” adding “Turkey will continue to stand by the Palestinian people.” Leader of the Justice and Development Party, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday (14 August 2020) that Turkey could suspend diplomatic relations with the United Arab Emirates after a landmark deal between the Israeli regime and the UAE. “I gave an order to the foreign minister. I said we could suspend diplomatic relations with the Abu Dhabi administration or withdraw our ambassador,” Erdogan told reporters.
This was not the end of Turkey’s concerns. In a joint effort, the media and politicians of the country have magnified the threat of the Abu Dhabi-Tel Aviv agreement. For example, the Turkish media is portraying this agreement as a serious threat to Tehran and also a severe security threat for the region. All this propaganda is in the context that Turkey, as an Islamic country, has had the highest level of relations with the Israeli regime during the past decades, and there have been extensive relations between the two sides.
While Turkey is not willing to end political and, more importantly, economic relations with the Israeli regime, it is opposing the normalization project strongly. We should also consider the concept that although political relations between the two sides have been strained in recent years, Ankara has expanded its economic ties with the Israeli regime. So now we should ask why Turkey is trying to magnify the threats of an agreement between the UAE and the Israeli regime, despite decades of good relations between Ankara and Tel Aviv.
Political and Geopolitical Rivalries
To understand why Turkey has taken such a stand, we should consider the current equations taking place in the region. Many possibilities could be the cause of Turkey's bid to magnify the threat of an agreement between the UAE and Israel, the most important of which can be evaluated in the equations of power in the Mediterranean Sea. Over the past year in a special effort Erdogan and Fayez al-Sarraj, prime minister of the Government of National Accord of Libya, agreed on the extraction of oil and gas energy resources in the Mediterranean Sea. Subsequently, by Libya setting field equations for the Turkish military to enter, it resulted in a strong disagreement of two sides opposing each other in the Mediterranean. One side stood, Erdogan, Qatar and the Government of National Accord of Libya, and the other side Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE, the military forces affiliated with Khalifa Belqasim Haftar, Greece, Cyprus and European countries, especially Russia and France. Erdogan's ambitious goals such as controlling Mediterranean energy resources, and the presence of Turkey in Libya, have led to the formation of an Arab-Western coalition against his country. Recently, Egypt and Greece signed an agreement designating an economic zone in the eastern Mediterranean between the two countries, an area which contains exclusive oil and gas reserves. There are now worries that the Israeli regime and Cyprus will be added to the agreement. Overall, Turkey fears that the normalization of relations between the UAE and the Israeli regime will pave the path for a greater co-operation between Ankara's opposition in the Mediterranean and Libya. Ankara is clearly aware that in the new geopolitical rivalry, Europe and the US will increasingly defend the positions of the UAE and Saudi Arabia against Turkey.
The reason for Turkey's concern about the proximity of the UAE and the Israeli regime can be evaluated in the confrontation between the two sides in the years after 2011. Following the revolutionary changes in some Arab countries in 2011, the Justice and Development Party also known as the AKP immediately adopted the strategy of promoting the Muslim Brotherhood and supporting political groups and associates close to it. Such actions of Turkey, especially in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia, did not escape the eyes of the UAE and Saudi Arabia, consequently resulting the UAE and Saudi Arabia to quickly take countermeasures. Finally, the outcome was the defeat of the Muslim Brotherhood government of Mohamed Morsi in Egypt and the rise of Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi.
A new phase of confrontation had risen between the sides after the Trump administration took office in the US. In 2017, Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Mohammad Bin Salman Al Saud and Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi formed an Arab coalition with the US support. One of the coalition’s agenda focuses on the counter of Turkish policies at a regional level. Also, this coalition can be classed as the main nemesis of the Muslim Brotherhood in the region. This ideological battle between the two sides has caused Turkey to be more concerned than others about the Abu Dhabi-Tel Aviv agreement. Turkish officials are well aware of the fact that the agreement between the UAE and the Israeli regime, will lead to the support of Europe and the US for the anti-Brotherhood front in the region. Further consequences consist of Turkey’s strategic plans being infiltrated in the future for events that may take place in the West Asian region. Therefore, they are trying to mobilize Islamic countries against the UAE by any means.