The ruling regime in the UAE has opposed Turkey’s recent military operation in northeastern Syria, which the Emirates Center for Studies and Information (IMAC) attributes to Abu Dhabi’s fear of Ankara’s growing regional influence.
The UAE has not justified its opposition to the Turkish Operation Peace Spring to build a buffer zone on the Syrian border where Syrian Kurds are present, to receive the state, Iran and the Syrian regime in one position rejecting the military operation.
The UAE is fighting in more than one country and is involved in murders of civilians. Newspapers and channels are full of news about the state’s role in abuses in Yemen and Libya and secret state-run prisons in those countries. Therefore, the state’s rejection of the Turkish operation in Syria has a political purpose that has been explained by Emirati support for the Kurds for years.
The UAE’s refusal to create a buffer zone began in January 2019, when UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said in an exclusive interview with the US-based Alhurra that the UAE supports Syrian Kurds against Turkey, stressing its rejection of the establishment of a safe zone in northern Syria.
In December 2017, the newspaper Nezavisimaya Gazeta wrote after talking about Trump’s promise to the Turkish president to disarm the Kurds that “northern Syria could depend on the support of Saudi Arabia and the UAE.”
Three months later, the Anatolia news agency reported that three Saudi and Emirati military advisers met officials of the Kurdistan Democratic Union (KDP) and separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which Turkey regards as terrorist organizations, at the US base in Kharab Ashq, south of Ain al-Arab (Kobani) in northeast Syria.
In December 2018, the Turkish newspaper Yeni Shafiq reported that Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates had sent a delegation of military and intelligence personnel to Kurdish-controlled areas in northern Syria, in order to finance 12 monitoring points in the region in cooperation with the Kurds.
According to the newspaper close to the government in its report entitled “Saudi Arabia and the UAE are taking steps as a declaration of war against Turkey,” the delegation was sent by the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi in cooperation with his ally, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Observers believe that the UAE and Saudi Arabia want to support the Kurds against Turkey, to put pressure on them in the case of the assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, so we saw support for nearly 30 thousand Kurdish fighters on the Turkish-Syrian border, which is controlled by parties that Turkey considers “terrorist organizations.”
In December 2018, the leader of Turkey’s opposition Nationalist Movement Party, Dolt Behçetli, warned Saudi Arabia and the UAE against supporting Kurdish separatist militias in northern and eastern Syria, under the name of border guards.
Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are among nine forces whose interests are linked to northern Syria, as well as the contradiction of the interests and strategies of eight other international and domestic forces competing for influence and control; namely, American, French, Russian, Turkish, Syrian, Iranian and Kurdish forces.
The UAE fears that Turkey will establish itself in the region as an influential force, as this will affect its alliances in the Middle East if Ankara supports the legitimate government in Libya against the forces of Khalifa Hifter, backed by the UAE. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is a fierce opponent of the Egyptian regime.