Humza Yousaf’s debut as first minister on the global stage at Cop28 risked being marred by scandals and rows within his own party.
The SNP leader announced £2 million for urban communities in the global south during his trip to Dubai for the conference.
It takes the total cash pledged by the Scottish Government to address loss and damage from climate change to £10 million.
But issues closer to home risked overshadowing the first minister’s visit.
‘Disappointed and disgusted’
Kurdish-born SNP councillor Roza Salih turned on her own party leader on social media saying she was disappointed and disgusted by a picture of him meeting with Turkish president Recipp Tayyip Erdogan.
I am disappointed and disgusted by this image @HumzaYousaf Erdogan kills #Kurds in Turkey & does not respect Human Rights. Our Politicians & half of the population are imprisoned by him and you shake his hand. I did not expect this from a FM that says he respects human rights. pic.twitter.com/gdzzlot9Gn
— Cllr Roza Salih (@RozaSalih) December 1, 2023
Salih, a councillor in Glasgow, came to Scotland from Iraq seeking asylum as a child and was a key figure in a campaign against raids used to remove refugees who had been refused asylum.
In a social media post on Friday night, she hit out at Yousaf for shaking hands with the Turkish leader, saying Erdogan “kills Kurds”.
Salih wrote: “I am disappointed and disgusted by this image, Humza Yousaf.
“Erdogan kills Kurds in Turkey and does not respect human rights.
“Our politicians and half of the population are imprisoned by him and you shake his hand. I did not expect this from a FM that says he respects human rights.”
Sharing the picture, Yousaf said the pair discussed climate change as well as the war in Gaza and the need for an immediate and permanent ceasefire.
An immediate & permanent ceasefire is needed now.
Too many innocent children have died, it must stop. pic.twitter.com/tDvs8X4tyJ
— Humza Yousaf (@HumzaYousaf) December 1, 2023
Meanwhile, the SNP was forced to categorically deny speculation that two of its politicians broke lockdown rules to engage in an extramarital affair.
It had been claimed in media reports that the alleged infidelity took place in 2020 at a time when Scots were told not to mix with anyone outside their household.
But in a statement on Friday, the SNP said these claims are untrue.
The party said it was aware of rumours relating to the two politicians early this year.
An SNP spokesperson said: “We are aware of rumours being reported in the media concerning two particular politicians, which first circulated in February.
“No substantiation for these rumours has ever been offered, very simply because these allegations are categorically untrue.”
The latest turmoil comes amid growing pressure related to Youaf’s handling of a row over his health secretary’s £11,000 iPad roaming bill.
We revealed previously that a party heavyweight branded the first minister “weak” for failing to sack Michael Matheson.
The MSP initially insisted his Holyrood-issued device had incurred the charge for parliamentary work while he was in Morocco.
He assured the media it had not been used for personal use despite learning days earlier that it had been used by his teenage sons to watch football matches.
Yousaf’s visit was also met with a warning from climate campaigners that plans to build a gas power station in Peterhead could lock Scotland into decade’s of fossil fuel dependency.
In a statement accompanying the £2 million funding pledge, Yousaf said: “Devolved governments have a crucial and essential role to play in addressing loss and damage, and the global journey to net zero – responsibility for over half of the emissions cuts needed at a global level lie with devolved state and regional governments.”
Responding to Salih’s comments, Yousaf’s spokesman said it is important for the first minister to meet with heads of state.