A tweet shared on Saturday by UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahayan, which said Ottoman troops led by Fakhreddin Pasha stole money and manuscripts from Medina in 1916, resulted in a feud between him and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan.
On Wednesday, Erdogan defended the Ottoman military commander after the United Arab Emirates foreign minister retweeted accusations that Ottoman forces looted the holy city of Medina during World War One.
The original tweet by one of UAE FM’s followers called Dr Ali Iraqi, also said Turkish forces abducted residents of Medina and took them to Istanbul. “These are Erdogan’s ancestors, and their history with Arab Muslims,” read the tweet.
Medina, now part of Saudi Arabia, was run by the Ottomans until the empire’s collapse at the end of World War One.
However, Erdogan’s spokesman Ibrahim Kalin has responded to Sheikh Abdullah’s comments, saying it was a shame that he “retweets this propaganda lie that seeks to turn Turks & Arabs against one another, again.”
In a speech to local administrators, Erdogan himself, said Fahreddin Pasha had not stolen from Medina or its people, but strived to protect the city and its occupants during a time of war.
Erdogan responded to the charge that sacred items from Medina were stolen and brought to Istanbul: “ … it was to protect them from the people that came to invade,” he said.
Arab citizens defend UAE FM
However, Saudi and Arab citizens took to twitter to criticize Turkish president and defend UAE FM.
They expressed anger over what they describe as minimizing the role of Saudi personalities in defending the city.
Some Arab historians also showed documents, photos and manuscripts which defend the comment retweeted by UAE FM.
Some as well blamed an alleged tragic displacement made by many residents of the city, during the events which took place in the world war one, to Fahreddin’s forces.
Ankara had supported Qatar after the Arab states Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt cut off relations with the Gulf emirate in June.
Two months later, the UAE through Sheikh Abdullah had criticized what he called Turkey and Iran’s “colonial” actions in Syria.