Defense Minister Akar, Al Bowardi to discuss Turkey-UAE ties

Defense chief Hulusi Akar headed to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) late Sunday on the first official visit at the defense minister level in 15 years, as the two countries mark a new era in bilateral relations.

Akar is expected to discuss military training cooperation and issues in the defense industry in a meeting with his Emirati counterpart Mohammed Ahmed Al Bowardi on Monday. They will also touch upon enhancing bilateral relations and discuss regional developments.

In February, Turkey and the UAE signed 13 new agreements in various fields during President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s visit to the Gulf country.

The two countries have seen their ties affected by regional tensions, including the conflict in Libya, where the UAE and Turkey have backed opposing sides in recent years.

Turkey last year accused the UAE of bringing chaos to the Middle East through its interventions in Libya and Yemen, while the UAE and several other countries criticized Turkey’s military actions. Relations hit an all-time low when Erdoğan said that Ankara could suspend diplomatic ties with the Abu Dhabi administration after the UAE-Israel deal.

Turkey also sided with Qatar in a Gulf dispute, at odds with the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, while Turkish support helped Libya’s United Nations-backed government in Tripoli drive back UAE-supported forces attempting to seize the capital. However, 2021 saw Turkey seeking warmer ties with several regional countries and longtime foes after many tumultuous years.

Converging interests have driven regional power shifts in the Middle East, mainly led by regional powerhouses Turkey and the UAE. The diplomatic maneuvering signals a growing realization across the region that the United States’ interest is moving elsewhere and that now is the time for negotiations that were unthinkable just a year ago.

Ties between Turkey and the Arab world are experiencing a major thaw after years of tense relations.

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