Al Jazeera: Ministerial meetings signal rapprochement between Egypt and Turkey

Al Jazeera: Ministerial meetings signal rapprochement between Egypt and Turkey
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Though ties between Egypt and Turkey had been severed since 2013, the two countries have recently held talks with agreements to “maximize diplomatic relations” with their foreign ministers discussing the next steps.

Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu visited Cairo this month upon the invitation of his Egyptian counterpart, Sameh Shoukry. Though the two countries have been on opposite sides in regional conflicts in the past, the ministerial meetings and other gestures of good will signal a normalization of ties since bilateral relations were severed in 2013.

Both ministers have expressed the will for rapprochement, with Shoukry saying that bilateral ties will be restored and Cavusoglu confirming that they have “agreed to maximize our diplomatic relations.”

Cavusoglu’s visit to Cairo comes on the back of Shoukry’s visit to Turkey in February following the catastrophic earthquakes experienced earlier that month. A Turkish delegation had also held official diplomatic talks, for the first time since 2013, with an Egyptian team in May 2021.

When current President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi ousted Erdogan’s ally and former Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohammed Morsi from power in 2013, Turkey had harshly condemned the coup.

The Erdogan government’s stance had soured relationships not only with the new administration in Egypt, but also with other powers, such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, who backed al-Sisi.

Diplomats and policy experts talking to Al Jazeera credit warming of relations between Turkey’s ally Qatar and other Arab states that had supported Sisi for the attempt at rapprochement between Turkey and Egypt today.

Foreign policy analyst Semih Idiz says, “Turkey would be isolated if it did not change its regional policy, so, I believe, the government started fixing its relations with rival powers in the region with the help of Qatar.”

Back in 2021, the Turkish government also began to restrict media in support of the Muslim Brotherhood, which Erdogan had once staunchly backed. Senior fellow at Carnegie Europe Sinan Ulgen says that “Ankara also got highly involved with Egypt’s internal politics and openly backed the Muslim Brotherhood in the 2010s, which is not the case today. Turkey even limited the activities of the group’s members within its borders, which was received positively in Cairo.”

Of course, the upcoming election in Turkey will determine the course for the future, as Idiz notes: “Egypt seems to be waiting for the result of the elections for the next move.”

Umut Aras writes in Al Jazeera that, “Although the two sides send warm messages and show the political will to fix ties, there are fundamental disagreements to be addressed before they can cooperate, including the conflict in Libya and disagreements over the exclusive economic zone and hydrocarbon resources in the Mediterranean.”