Why regional rivals Turkey and UAE are in war of words over Libya

Diplomatic tensions between Turkey and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have resurfaced once again after the two sides were engaged in a war of words over the crisis in Libya.

In a statement issued on Thursday, the UAE’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation expressed its concern over Turkish interference in Libya through the alleged deployment of fighters and smuggling of arms.

The UAE ministry also praised the Libyan National Army (LNA), led by renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar, and rejected Turkish military intervention on behalf of Libya’s UN-recognised government.

Responding to the criticism, Hami Aksoy, the Turkish foreign ministry spokesman, accused the UAE of pursuing “destructive” and “two-faced” policies in the region and called on Abu Dhabi to stop its “hostile attitude” towards Ankara.

Aksoy said the UAE was backing “putschists” in Libya – a reference to the LNA – by providing them with arms and mercenaries. He called on the Gulf state to “stop funding forces against the international peace, security and stability” in places such as Yemen, Syria and the Horn of Africa.

Turkey supports the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) and has signed a military cooperation agreement with it to help the fight against Haftar’s LNA, backed by the UAE and its ally, Saudi Arabia.

Last year, the LNA started a military operation to remove the GNA from capital Tripoli but has not made much progress till now.

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