Without mentioning Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan directly, Erdogan said “some Arab leaders” were antagonising his country in order to “cover their ignorance and their incompetence.”
The angry rebuke comes a day after a spokesperson for the Turkish president, Ibrahim Kalin, accused the UAE of spreading divisive propaganda after the UAE’s most senior diplomat retweeted a post claiming Fahreddin Pasha, the Ottoman governor of Medina between 1916 and 1919, had committed crimes against local Arabs and stolen their property.
“These are Erdogan’s ancestors and their past with the Arabs,” the tweet said.
The city, which houses the Prophet Muhammad’s tomb and is revered by Muslims, was ruled by the Ottomans until they were defeated by the British and their Arab allies in World War I
Kalin responded immediately, directly admonishing Abdullah bin Zayed for sharing the post, which he said aimed to turn Turks and Arabs against one another.
“It was Fahreddin Pasha who bravely defended Medina against the British plans then,” he wrote.
Erdogan’s remarks during a speech on Wednesday went a step further: “While Fahreddin Pasha was defending Medina, you miserable ones who slander us, where were your ancestors?” He asked.
The spat marks a new low point in relations between Turkey and the Arab Gulf state, with Ankara throwing its support behind Qatar after it was subject to a blockade and other punitive measures by four Arab states, including the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Egypt.