The United Arab Emirates (UAE) foreign minister’s tweet about President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and an Ottoman commander has caused a lasting diplomatic storm between Turkey and the Gulf country.
On Thursday, Turkey summoned a senior UAE diplomat to complain about a tweet by an Emirati minister that infuriated Turkish President Erdogan, state media reported.
The Emirates’ Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan this week retweeted a post on Twitter in which a user made allegations of historic misdoings by “ancestors of Erdogan”.
The tweet alleged that a former Ottoman governor pillaged and kidnapped people from the pilgrimage city of Medina in the early 20th century.
The Turkish foreign ministry summoned the Emirati charge d’affaires in Ankara on Thursday and complained about the post, state-run Anadolu news agency said.
The charge d’affaires was the top UAE diplomat currently present in Turkey as the ambassador was temporarily absent.
The offending tweet was posted by a user called “Ali al-Iraqi”, presenting himself as an Iraqi dentist living in Germany.
“Ali al-Iraqi” said Fahreddin Pasha — Medina governor from 1916 to 1919 — “committed a crime against the people of Medina by stealing their money, kidnapping them and putting them on trains that took them to Syria and Istanbul”.
The user added: “Those are the ancestors of Erdogan and this is the history that they have with Arab Muslims.”
هل تعلمون في عام1916قام التركي فخري باشا بجريمة بحق أهل المدينة النبوية فسرق أموالهم وقام بخطفهم واركابهم في قطارات إلى الشام واسطنبول برحلة سُميت(سفر برلك)
كما سرق الأتراك أغلب مخطوطات المكتبة المحمودية بالمدينة وارسلوها إلى تركيا.
هؤلاء أجداد أردوغان وتاريخهم مع المسلمين العرب pic.twitter.com/lEynzANQiV
— د. علي العراقي (@ali11iraq) December 16, 2017
Fahreddin Pasha was governor during the siege of Medina (1916-1919).
Erdogan hit back on Wednesday, telling the minister to “know your place” as he railed against the Twitter user’s “slanderous claims”.
“Know your place! It means you do not know this country, you do not know Erdogan, you do not know about Erdogan’s ancestors,” he retorted.
“When Fahreddin Pasha was protecting Medina… where were your ancestors?”
Erdogan went on the attack again on Thursday, saying the Emirati minister was “ill-brought up” and “too spoilt by oil and money”.
Relations between the UAE and Turkey are filled with distrust as Ankara supports Qatar in a six-month crisis with its Gulf neighbors including the UAE, as well as political groups stemming from the Muslim Brotherhood movement.
The UAE outlawed the Muslim Brotherhood as a “terror” group in 2014.
Turkish pro-government newspapers also routinely allude to UAE involvement in last year’s attempted coup against Erdogan.