Erdoğan breaking ties with the Arab world - The National

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is hoping he can deflect internal woes by manufacturing problems with other countries, as evident in Ankara’s detention of two men accused being spies for the UAE, wrote Ahmed Al Jarwan, president of the Global Council for Tolerance and Peace, for the UAE-based newspaper The National.

Turkish authorities said they have detained the two men who have been identified as Palestinian Samir Samih Shabaan and Zaki Yousef Hassan on Monday on suspicion of spying for the UAE.

The move arrives as the country’s unemployment  between December and February was reported as being at its highest in a decade, reaching close to 15 per cent and the lira continues to slide amid Erdoğan’s defeat at the March 31 local elections, Al Jarwan wrote.

Noting that Erdoğan has openly threatened bankers who reported on the Turkish economy, the article stressed that the response by Turkey’s strongman to the country’s ailing economy raises more concerns about how Turkey now does business.

“Arab investors must limit their exposure to such a volatile economy, especially when the rule of law is no longer guaranteed to protect bankers and others in the country,’’ the article said while quoting Ulrich Leuchtmann from Commerzbank as saying: “With archaic measures of this kind, [Mr Erdogan] will scare away even the last courageous investor”.

In fact, the Turkish president’s erratic behaviour is of concern to all of in the region, The National article said, highlighting that Erdogan is breaking ties with the Arab world and making it impossible for Arabs to currently consider Turkey as a natural ally.

The latest accusation of two men spying for the UAE is problematic in that there are many flaws in the allegation, including the fact that if the rule of law was being followed and the two have not yet been charged, their identities and pictures should not have been released.

At one moment the detainees were being called Emirati, the next called Emirati agents, has further raised questions over the accusation, it added.

Furthermore, “Turkey’s role in Syria is being questioned by Syrians who had mistakenly trusted Ankara’s declared support for the opposition, only to then ally itself with Tehran and Moscow,’’ the article said, noting that Ankara’s claims on lands in Arab countries such as Syria and Iraq are creating question marks about Erdoğan’s expansionist policies.

In the 40th year since the Turkish embassy opened in Abu Dhabi, celebrations have been replaced with serious concerns about relations with Turkey under Erdogan’s rule, Al Jarwan said, adding that Emirati citizens are no longer safe visiting Turkey, where the risks are too high and civilians have repeatedly been targeted.

As for many UAE businesses, it added, the decision to invest in Turkey also forms too great a risk.

Highlighting that the UAE is the second largest trading partner for Turkey after Iraq, the article underlined that bilateral trade between the two countries, which stood at $13.4 billion in 2017, is now in jeopardy, as investors and consumers alike feel the political pressure Ankara’s actions.