Turkey's foreign relations with various countries vary according to the issue, timing and interlocking factors, so the rivalry increases at times and recedes at other times, with the exception of its relations with the Emirates, as it is always in crisis, and the two sides stand on opposite sides in all the issues of the region and their files, with a clear and direct intensity.

Abu Dhabi is the most severe and attacking Turkey politically and in the media, describing its policies in the region as colonial and expansionist, and in return it receives the clearest and most direct criticism of Ankara recently and by name.

The last chapters of this tense relationship is Ankara's announcement of the arrest of journalist Ahmed Al-Astal on charges of spying on Turkey and the Arab opposition there in the interest of the UAE.

The arrest of Al-Astal marks the third time that Turkey has announced, in the past two years, the arrest of people suspected of spying for Abu Dhabi, as two people were arrested in April 2019 who were said to have been collecting information on Palestinian factions in Turkey.

Turkish security services have sought to combat what they say are espionage activities for the benefit of the UAE in recent years (Getty Images)


A Turkish security source told Al-Jazeera Net, "Al-Astal was on the run for a few weeks before his arrest, and the movement of his bank account caught our attention."

He pointed out that the Turkish intelligence is following up on those coming from the UAE with the aim of residing in Turkey, fearing that some will be sent to perform a certain security mission, and that the Arab opposition present on its territory is constantly being targeted by the intelligence of its country.

The source explained that they returned to the archive of visits by Emirati officials to Turkey, and it appeared to them that an Emirati security official visited Al-Astal in April 2016, indicating that Al-Astal was communicating with his officials remotely using programs installed in his computer.

Regarding the information circulating about Al-Astal's work in the state-run Anadolu Agency, a source from the agency confirmed to Al-Jazeera Net that he worked as a volunteer for two months only and was not an employee of Anatolia journalists.

For his part, Hussam Al-Astal, the brother of the accused - who lives in Gaza - said that he did not believe that his brother Ahmed worked for the Emirati government, even though he lived in the Emirates until his transfer to Turkey in 2013, he said.

He stressed that the UAE considered his brother an opponent because of his support for the Muslim Brotherhood, adding, "How can he be accused of this?"

A statement by the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate stated that "Ahmed - who holds a temporary Jordanian passport - worked as a journalist for several years in the UAE, before leaving for Turkey 8 years ago, and works in the field of journalism and research."

Meanwhile, the "Washington Post" newspaper reported that Al-Astal - who was said to be known to the Emiratis as "Abu Layla" - was supervised by Emirati employees who told investigators that he knew them under pseudonyms, and his work included reporting on Turkish political developments, and that he was forced into Espionage for more than a decade.

Turkish authorities arrested two men last year for spying for the UAE (European - Archive)

Turkish-Emirati relations

In the context, the leader of the ruling Justice and Development Party in Turkey, Rasul Tosson, stated that the UAE is a functional state targeting Turkey and spying on it for the benefit of US imperialism and the Zionist administration in Israel.

Tosson told Al-Jazeera Net that "the imperialist forces are disturbed by an independent and strong Turkey, which has become a regional power that defends its interests and the interests of the region. Therefore, it aims to stop or thwart Turkey, using Abu Dhabi as a tool in achieving this goal."

He added, "There is an attractiveness and acceptance of the Turkish model among the Arab peoples, as it is based on the will of the people and the rotation of power, as well as developmental achievements and historical political positions. This model scares the UAE, so it is working to distort it and try to drop it in their own home."

Tosson - a former parliamentarian - explained that Turkey is today a significant player in the Arab Gulf through the strategic relationship with Qatar, while the Emirati game and the language of expansion have begun to recede, which makes harassment of Turkey less effective and valuable.

In a previous interview with Al-Jazeera Net, Vice President of the ruling Justice and Development Party in Turkey, Jawdat Yilmaz, said, "His country does not want to enter into a conflict with a country, but when the UAE carries out activity against our interests, we cannot leave it without an account, as it supported the coup attempt in Turkey includes international terrorists who act as advisers for it. "

Yassin Aktay, an advisor to the Turkish president, said to Al Jazeera Net that the UAE is hostile to Turkey because it stood with the revolutions of the Arab peoples, “It also reinforces the dispute between Egypt and Turkey and stands in the way of any Egyptian cooperation with us in the eastern Mediterranean even if it is at the expense of the Egyptians’ interest. From igniting discord and destabilizing the region. "

On the other hand, former Dubai Police Chief Dhahi Khalfan said in a tweet on Twitter that "the arrests that Turkey announces from time to time of Emirati citizens must be met with a popular boycott to travel to Turkey," considering that "when you travel today to Turkey during Erdogan's era, you travel to a country." Oppressive. "

Turkey put Dahlan on its most wanted list on many charges, including international espionage (Reuters)

Continuous Turkish threats.

In January 2019, Middle East Eye revealed that the Director of the Israeli Foreign Intelligence Service (Mossad), Yossi Cohen, met with Emirati, Egyptian and Saudi officials "to discuss ways to counter Turkey's influence in the region."

In late July, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar threatened the UAE, stressing that Ankara would hold it accountable for what it did in the right place and time, as it harmed his country in Libya and Syria.

The Turkish minister described the Gulf state as a "state that is used remotely," and demanded that it look at its "diminutive size and the extent of its influence, and not to spread sedition and corruption."

Earlier, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu attacked the UAE, indicating that it tried to bring the dismissed leader of the Fatah movement, Muhammad Dahlan, instead of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Last December, Turkey added Dahlan, adviser to the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, to the list of wanted terrorists, due to his links to the Gulen movement and his role in the attempted coup on July 15, 2016.