December 27, 2017 / 2:04 PM / 2 months ago

In first remarks since retweet feud, UAE diplomat says Arabs won't be led by Turkey

DUBAI (Reuters) - A senior UAE diplomat said on Wednesday the Arab world would not be led by Turkey, the Gulf State’s first comment on Ankara since a quarrel broke out last week over a retweet by the Emirati foreign minister that President Tayyip Erdogan called an insult.

Anwar Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of the United Arab Emirates, said there was a need for Arab countries to rally around the “Arab axis” of Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

“The sectarian and partisan view is not an acceptable alternative, and the Arab world will not be led by Tehran or Ankara,” he wrote on his official Twitter page.

Last week, Turkey summoned the charge d‘affaires at the UAE embassy in Ankara, after UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahayan shared a tweet that accused Turkish troops of looting the holy city of Medina a century ago.

Erdogan himself lashed out: “Some impertinent man sinks low and goes as far as accusing our ancestors of thievery ... What spoiled this man? He was spoiled by oil, by the money he has,” the Turkish leader said at an awards ceremony.

Turkey’s state-run Anadolu newspaper reported on Saturday that Turkey planned to rename the street where the UAE embassy is located in Ankara after Fakhreddin Pasha, the commander of the Ottoman Turkish troops at Medina in 1916. Medina, the holiest site in Islam after Mecca, is now in Saudi Arabia.

The UAE sees itself as a bulwark against political forms of Islam, and views Erdogan’s Islamist-rooted ruling AK party as a supporter of groups like the Muslim Brotherhood, which it opposes.

Editing by Peter Graff

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