Operation into Syria highlights Turkey's rift with Arab nations

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Turkey's military offensive in northeastern Syria has revealed deep divisions lingering between Ankara and some Arab nations.

Following an emergency meeting called by Egypt on the offensive, the Arab League (AL) lambasted Turkey's now paused operation as an "invasion of an Arab state's land and an aggression on its sovereignty" and threatened Ankara of economic sanctions.

Turkey, which has received a barrage of international criticism for its third incursion into its neighboring country launched on Oct. 9, dismissed the AL's statement, saying it misrepresented the military operation and does not speak for the Arab World.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan meanwhile slammed the 22-member body for lack of support for conflict-affected Syrians, asking "how many Syrian refugees did Arab states welcome," reminding that his country is hosting 3.6 million of Syrian refugees since the start of the civil war in 2011.

The Turkish leader angrily rejected the Arab and Western criticism of the Turkish operation, singling out particularly Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

The Arab bloc's hostility to the Turkish military action has led to an anti-Arab sentiment suddenly surfacing on social media where users, among them politicians and academics, have slammed the move, seeing it as "a reflection of a transcending anti-Turkish feeling."

Experts said that the AL is predominantly under Egypt and Saudi Arabia's control, two states opposed to the Middle East pivot of Erdogan.

They also point out that the AL has no real mechanism to exert significant pressure on Ankara and most Arab nations would not consider withdrawing their lucrative investments from Turkey made over the years.

The Turkish government felt being "deceived" by the AL after the statement, although some nations, such as Qatar, an ally of Turkey, have rejected it, said Mehmet Enes Beser, director of the Ankara-based Bosphorus Migration Studies.

The analyst argued that the "collective Arab condemnation of Turkey for its military action in Syria exposed years of bad blood between Turkey and some Arab countries such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates."

"Egypt took the lead of an openly hostile attitude towards Turkey and especially the Erdogan government. This is the culmination of a climate of political differences," pointed out Beser.

Arab leaders have objected to Erdogan's support for the Muslim Brotherhood and his so-called neo-Ottoman ideas, a policy that the Turkish leader himself has defended for humanitarian purposes.

Erdogan is very critical of the Egyptian government, which has ousted in 2013 the former President Mohammed Morsi and outlawed his Muslim Brotherhood.

The two countries have been since entangled in a bitter war of words and struggling for regional influence. This led to the near isolation of Turkey, which is not an Arab nation, in the Middle East, according to experts.

New alliances have been forged in the Middle East following the 2017 boycott of Qatar by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt. Qatar has relied on NATO member Turkey, which maintains a military base in this country, for support against the economic blockade.

"The fact that Egypt is also hostile to Turkey's hydrocarbon explorations in Eastern Mediterranean ... is something worth noticing," remarked Beser, referring to a rising tension in contentious waters off Cyprus over gas and oil reserves.

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