Turkey replaces hostility with strategic competition over Egypt - analyst

Ankara wants to establish a less aggressive relationship with Cairo, which shifts from hostility to strategic competition, Egyptian writer Mohamed Abul Fadhl wrote in the Arab Weekly on Saturday.

Relations between Turkey and Egypt have been fractured since Abdel Fattah al-Sisi came to power in a July 2013 military coup and launched a crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who had forged close ties with the ousted Egyptian leader Mohammed Morsi, opposed the military takeover and has frequently denounced el-Sisi as a dictator.

However, Turkey’s government on Thursday announced it would hold meetings with Egyptian officials at the start of May as part of a planned rapprochement between the two regional rivals.

President Erdoğan realized that continued hostility with Egypt would lead to more local, regional and international setbacks for his country, and recognized that a calm rapprochement and shift to competition might give him a better advantage, Abul Fadhl said.

Turkey also found out that reaching an understanding with Cairo is the key to greater rapprochement with several Gulf states, he wrote, adding that resolving many of the crises Ankara faced in the eastern Mediterranean and preserving Turkey’s intertwined interests in Libya, where it had first used mercenaries and extremists as effective weapons.

Yet, experts say that Egyptian officials had not been satisfied with Ankara’s performance.

If Turkey removes the Brotherhood card from its sleeve, takes mercenaries out of Libya and helps Cairo solve the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam crisis, it may get a return for that on some regional issues, or at least it would end Egypt’s defensive reactions once it is convinced that Ankara is not a threat to Cairo, the analyst said.