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Ankara changes embassy street name after UAE spat

2 min

Ankara (AFP)

Ankara on Tuesday renamed the street in the Turkish capital where the United Arab Emirates' embassy is located after an Ottoman governor, in a symbolic riposte to Abu Dhabi following weeks of tensions.

UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan retweeted a post on Twitter last month which accused Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's "ancestors of kidnapping people of Medina in the early 20th century."

The post by a user called "Ali al-Iraqi" also claimed that Fahreddin Pasha -- the Ottoman governor of Medina from 1916 to 1919 -- stole from the people of the sacred Islamic pilgrimage city.

Medina, home to the Prophet's Mosque which as the burial place of the prophet Mohammed is the second holiest site in Islam, was then part of the Ottoman Empire and now a major city in modern Saudi Arabia.

Erdogan hit back at the Emirati minister, telling him to "know your place" and that the claims were "slanderous" to the memory of Turkey's Ottoman predecessors.

He later said the minister was "ill-bred" and "too spoilt by oil and money", in a reference to the UAE's rapid growth in recent decades.

Ankara mayor Mustafa Tuna said late Monday that 613 Street would be renamed "Fahreddin Pasha" while the nearby avenue would be renamed "Medina Defender" instead of 609 Avenue.

The decision, mooted last month, was approved by the Ankara municipality assembly on Monday.

"Henceforth, the mailing address of the embassy will be Medina Defender Avenue, Fahreddin Pasha Street. Good luck with it," Tuna said in a tweet.

Turkish television early Tuesday showed city workers switching the signs.

Relations between the UAE and Turkey have been marked by distrust in recent months.

- Geopolitics -

Ankara supports Qatar in the seven-month standoff with the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt which cut all ties with the Gulf emirate on June 5.

Those Gulf states claim that Qatar supports Islamist extremists and is too close to Shiite Iran, Riyadh's arch-rival. Ankara rejects the charges.

Turkey summoned the Emirati charge d'affaires in Ankara last month -- as the ambassador was temporarily absent -- to complain about the social media posting.

The Turkish leadership has been wary of criticising Saudi Arabia and its powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, a close ally of the UAE, in the standoff.

But pro-government media have been bitterly critical of Riyadh's policies, claiming they are part of a US-backed move to reshape the Middle East.

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