Turkey accuses UAE of financing terrorists in Somalia

UAE and Turkish leaders, Mohammed bin Zayed and Recep Tayyip Erdogan, meet in 2012 (AFP)

ANKARA, Turkey – Abu Dhabi has been financing Al-Shabaab’s terror activities in as many years, Turkey said in a statement, amid ongoing efforts to stabilize Somalia, a nation which is prone to crises for decades now.

Turkey has now asked the United Arab Emirates to abandon its “hostile attitude” towards Ankara, which is anchored on “archaic” ideologies that cannot help the world to “interrelate” properly based on mutual cooperation.

In a statement issued on Thursday by Foreign Affairs ministry in Ankara, Turkey accused UAE of “hypocrisy” that is steered by politics of a country that supports all kinds of “coup plotters” across the world.

“The statement by the United Arab Emirates [UAE] Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation is an attempt to hide the hypocritical politics of a country that gives all kinds of support to coup plotters,” Hami Aksoy said, the ministry’s spokesman said.

The vicious statement comes days after UAE accused Ankara of “meddling” in affairs of Arab politics, citing endless political squabbles in Libya and their exploits in the war-torn Somalia, which is their current battlefield for business ventures and political rivalries.

And now, Ankara blames Abu Dhabi for Al-Shabaab insurgency in Somalia, arguing that the group thrives due to financial and technical support given by the UAE. The Al-Shabaab has been fighting for a decade with the aim of toppling the fragile UN-backed administration.

“It is not a secret that the UAE supports terrorist organizations, especially Al Shabab, and separatist movements in Yemen,” the ministry said in a statement, which would probably ignite diplomatic confrontations.

For the last three years, Turkey has developed a rapport with the federal government of Somalia. More often than not, it’s directly involved in the development and internal politics on the Horn of Africa nation, with Somalia terming it as “our true friend”.

So tight has been the relationship under the reign of President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo, that UAE has been dislodged in the pecking order. Ankara is one of the major development partners of Mogadishu.

In December 2019, an Al-Shabaab explosion targeting a Turkish convoy left almost 90 people dead. In a statement, Al-Shabaab said “we apologize to innocent people, our main target was Turkish convoy” perhaps in its open defiance to Ankara.

Before Al-Shabaab taking responsibility, Somali spy chief Fahad Yasin, an influential and divisive figure in Somalia, was quick to blame a “foreign nation” for engineering the raid. Turkey trains elite Gorgor troops, who have played an indispensable role in degrading Al-Shabaab militants.

Predictably, the row between the two nations was anticipated due to endless campaigns for influence in Arab and Horn of Africa politics. Both of them recently donated a consignment of medical supplies to help Somalia fight the Coronavirus pandemic.

Despite the grave accusations, Turkey did not, however, give tangible evidence connecting UAE to Al-Shabaab activities. The militants have recently been struggling with finances, forcing them to cross over to northeastern Kenya for extortion and illegal taxation, intelligence reports indicate.

Also, the statement added that Abu Dhabi’s remarks over Ankara’s intervention in Arab politics are groundless as Turkey will continue to support countries within legitimacy and political solution. Ankara also linked UAE to endless political intrigues in Libya.

Turkey backs the Government of National Accord [GNA], Libya’s internationally recognized government, and has signed a military cooperation agreement to help it repel warlord Khalifa Haftar’s offensive backed by UAE, Egypt, Russia.

“For years, the UAE has provided arms, military equipment, and mercenary support to coup plotters in Libya,” Aksoy said. Ankara has repeatedly urged world powers to stop supporting Haftar’s militants.

Turkish foreign ministry also underlined that the international community is aware of UAE’s disruptive actions against peace and security not only in Libya but also in Yemen, Syria, and the Horn of Africa.

The ministry also underlined that the only way to ensure stability and peace in Libya is to support Libya’s Political Agreement and the UN-recognised Government of National Accord [GNA] instead of supporting illegal mobs that target civilians.

Both Somalia and Libya have been experiencing political quagmire for years now. While the former’s predicaments can be traced back 30 years ago when Siad Barre was toppled, the latter’s woes were engineered by the Arab Spring, which led to the ouster of former strong man Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

Al-Shabaab remains a menace in the quest to establish a functional state in Somalia, given its frequent sporadic attacks across East Africa. The militants have, however, lost a considerable amount of their territories in rural central and southern Somalia.



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