The Arab world needs to come together under Saudi-Egyptian leadership to push back against the ambitions of regional rivals Iran and Turkey, a U.A.E. minister has said.
“The Arab world is at an impasse and the solution is to cooperate in the face of surrounding regional ambitions,” U.A.E. Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said Wednesday on Twitter. “The sectarian and partisan approach is not an acceptable alternative. The Arab world will not be led by Tehran and Ankara.”
The U.A.E. call for unity under the flag of the Arab world’s most powerful nations comes at a time of intensified rivalry for regional hegemony between Saudi Arabia and Iran, as played out in a series of proxy conflicts across the Middle East. Turkey’s warming ties with Iran and support for Qatar in its dispute with a Saudi-led group of Arab states have been another point of contention.
Earlier this week, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan feuded with the U.A.E. over another minister’s derision of a legendary Turkish officer, whom he referred to as “Erdogan’s ancestor.”
Gargash’s comments follow a state visit to Sudan by Erdogan, where the countries agreed they’ll jointly build a port on the Red Sea to service civilian and military ships, and that Sudan’s Suakin Island will be opened to Turkish investment, according to Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency.
The agreement was signed as the U.A.E. seeks to expand its military reach in the Red Sea and the Horn of Africa coast.