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Turkey, UAE in row over Ottoman Pasha

Updated: Jun 3

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has blasted United Arab Emirates (UAE) Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan for accusing Fahreddin Pasha, a Medina governor and commander of the Ottoman Empire during the First World War, of “ransacking” Medina in 1916.

“Those miserable ones are in such a delirium that they can say without shame that Erdoğan’s ancestors have stolen the sacred relic from Medina and brought it to Istanbul! That is called protecting this place from intruders, not stealing. Protecting in the name of martyrdom,” Erdoğan said on Dec. 20.

(One calls it stealing and another one 'protecting', Erdoğan knows best) Just saying.

His comments came after al-Zayed retweeted a Twitter post - with image shown below - on Dec. 16 that criticized the historical ties between the Ottoman Empire and Arab nations, accusing Fahreddin Pasha of committing crimes against the people during the Siege of Medina in 1916.

The post accused Fahreddin Pasha of “stealing the goods of the people of Medina” and “embezzling handwritten manuscript artefacts in Mahmudiyah to Istanbul by declaring mobility from Damascus to Istanbul.”

“These are Erdoğan’s ancestors and their history with Arab Muslims,” the post added.

These are Erdogan's ancestors and their history with Arab Muslims

The first response to al-Zayed’s post came from Presidential Spokesperson Ibrahim Kalın on Dec. 19.

“It is a shame that @ABZayed, FM of UAE, retweets this propaganda lie that seeks to turn Turks & Arabs against one another, again. It was Fahreddin Pasha who bravely defended Madinah against the British plans then. Is attacking President Erdoğan at all costs the new fashion now?” Kalın wrote on this official Twitter account, referring to al-Zayed.

Erdoğan also blasted al-Zayed without directly mentioning him.

“Fahreddin Pasha is a commander who never laid an eye on even a stone of Medina. He secured all the properties of the people of the city and never moved away from justice,” he said.

“You piteous one who slanders us: Where were your ancestors while Fahreddin Pasha was defending Medina?” he added.

“It is obvious that the aim of some Arab officials’ hostility toward Turkey is to cover up their own inability, lack of endurance and even treachery. It is clear that you know nothing about our ancestors, about Erdoğan,” the Turkish president said, stressing the “unifying principle of being a Muslim.”

“[Their] delirium will not limit Turks, Arabs, Kurds and other Muslims. We will never leave the floor to those who slander Muslim unity and solidarity for their own personal interests,” Erdoğan added.

“The officials of some countries who don’t know history or diplomatic courtesy cannot cast a shadow over our brotherhood with the Arab peoples nor our struggle for our God’s consent and our Prophet’s bliss,” he said.

During the First World War, Medina was under siege from 1916 after Mecca’s Sharif Hussain revolted against the Ottoman Empire, siding with British forces.

Fahreddin Pasha is known as the Ottoman commander who has defended the city against Sharif Hussain’s revolt until Abdullah I of Jordan entered Medina in 1919.

Diplomatic ties between the UAE and Turkey plunged after Abu Dhabi supported Egyptian General el-Sisi’s government, which was founded after the coup d’etat that removed Mohamed Morsi from power in 2013.

During the spat the UAE recalled its ambassador to Ankara in 2013, after which the post was vacant for three years. The UAE did not appoint a new ambassador to Turkey until 2016.

Following Turkey’s July 2016 coup attempt relations were tense again, with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu reportedly accusing the Gulf country of “financing the coup.”

Erdoğan also indirectly pointed to the UAE after Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain cut ties with Qatar in June, accusing it of financing terror.

“We know very well who in the Gulf was happy with the coup attempt in Turkey,” Erdoğan said on June 10, 2017, as Turkey backed Qatar amid sanctions from the four other Arab countries.

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