The UAE and Turkey: How are the countries developing their military and defense cooperation?

Turkey and the United Arab Emirates are developing military and defense cooperation between them

Turkey and the UAE are developing their military and defense cooperation. The Emirati-Turkish cooperation has become an important indicator of the strategic transformations taking place in the Middle East and the world, in light of the repercussions of the Russian-Ukrainian war.

After years of rift between the UAE and Turkey, relations have returned to their normalcy in the past two years, marked by fruitful alliances in several fields, particularly in the economic sector.

The year 2021 marked the beginning of a new phase in the relationship and partnership between the two countries at the diplomatic, military, and bilateral levels. The bilateral relations between the two countries have experienced a qualitative leap in all spheres and levels.

Military and defense relations between Turkey and the UAE

The military ties between the two countries have become evident following mutual meetings between state ministers in the defense field over the years. These meetings aimed at enhancing bilateral cooperation, particularly in the military and defense sectors, and finding ways to support and develop them to serve the common interests of regional security and stability.

Mutual visits and telephone discussions between the two countries continue. Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the UAE’s president, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan held a virtual summit in early March of last year, during which they signed the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement between the UAE and the Republic of Turkey.

This agreement has become one of the most prominent points of strategic cooperation between the two countries at present, as it provides opportunities and promising prospects for the future. It reinforces the partnership between the two countries, which includes a series of mutual and continuous initiatives in various fields.

Developing relations in the defense sector

Amid efforts to enhance cooperation in various fields, especially in the defense sector, particularly in the gas and energy sector, the two countries signed memoranda of understanding to develop their relations since 2022.

A statement issued by the Turkish Presidency of Defense Industries at that time indicated that, in continuation of intensifying defense cooperation between the two countries, government officials and companies from both sides met in Ankara. The statement mentioned the participation of Ismail Demir, the President of the Turkish Defense Industries Authority, and Tariq Abdul Rahim Al Hosani, the CEO of the UAE Economic Balance Council, as well as senior military officials and company directors from both countries.

A “letter of intent” on defense industry cooperation was also renewed during President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s visit to the United Arab Emirates in February. Turkey and the UAE signed 13 agreements covering investment, defense, transportation, health, and agriculture during Erdogan’s official visit to Abu Dhabi in February.

A crucial matter

Tarek Fahmi, a professor of international political science, said that assessing the Emirati-Turkish rapprochement at this time is of great importance because it will naturally lead to direct cooperation within this framework. The cooperation between the two countries is primarily economic in nature, as evidenced by the recent agreement signed with the UAE Central Bank on the Sawa’f initiative, worth about $4 billion over three years, aiming to enhance trade exchange and improve financial dealings between the two countries.

He added that the direct cooperation between Ankara and Abu Dhabi indicates significant developments following Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed’s visit to Turkey. He believes that this is happening at this time due to considerations related to the joint cooperation between the two countries.

Fahmi pointed out that the UAE and Turkey are currently cooperating in various fields, not only in military or defense aspects but also in areas such as raising the level of trade representation, tourism, and significantly improving diplomatic relations at a high level. The normalization of relations has not been limited to military or defense cooperation only. He also noted that the UAE has opened up significantly to the region and major powers. Through enhancing military cooperation, there are many considerations in the military field, some of which are strategic and others political. In the defense sector, I believe this is the most important because they are building a defensive strategy between the two countries, which will witness significant developments in the near future.

Fahmi also highlighted Erdogan’s upcoming visit to the UAE, during which the focus will be on the economic dimension rather than the political one. However, there is great interest in the level of relations between the two parties, with a particular focus on Gulf countries. Erdogan’s mission is important because it conveys messages in multiple directions, and the Turks have made significant progress in military and strategic cooperation.

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