Prepared by: Essam Abdel Moneim Al-Badri_Abdullah Ahmed Al-Sayed_Shrouq Ahmed Eissa _ Faculty of Economics and Political Science, Department of Political Science, Alexandria University.
- Arab Democratic Center
What are the Turkish motives behind the rapprochement with Egypt and what is the extent of its credibility? How can the Egyptian-Turkish rapprochement affect the regional conditions in the region, such as the crisis in the eastern Mediterranean and the situation in Libya? How can Egypt benefit from the restoration of relations with Turkey? But before all that, we must examine the history of the Egyptian-Turkish relations and the reason for the disagreement first? This is what we will address in the study through the following axes:
- The history of the Egyptian-Turkish relations (2000 AD_2021 AD) and the reason for the disagreement between the two countries.
- Turkish motives for rapprochement with Egypt.
- Egyptian interests from rapprochement with Turkey.
- The scenario of rapprochement and a reflection on the regional situation.
First: The history of Egyptian-Turkish relations (2000 AD – 2021 AD) and the reason for the disagreement.
There is neither permanent hostility nor permanent peace, but permanent interests. This is the state of international relations, and the history of international relations is always the first guide for reviewing the past, studying and understanding the present in order to predict the future, and given that the chaos events in the Middle East have put many relationships under test, especially Egyptian-Turkish relations, in this study, we will deal with a simple historical overview of the nature of the Egyptian-Turkish relations.
- Egyptian-Turkish relations during the era of President “Mubarak”:
Relations between the two countries were characterized by relative stability and mutual cooperation in all fields. Clear differences did not appear between the governments of the two countries until the Development and Justice Party came to power in Turkey, especially when President Recep Tayyip Erdogan assumed the premiership in Turkey. On the political level, we find Egypt’s permanent support for the Turkish state, and the best evidence for this is the occurrence of two military coups in Turkey in the early eighties. Egypt did not interfere in the affairs of the Turkish state and was content with its support to preserve the state, its acquisition and its entity, in addition to the occurrence of a series of earthquakes in Turkish lands in 1999 AD; Cairo pledged to send relief aid and aid to the Turkish people, but in light of the developments and the acceleration of events on the regional arena, relations began to take a different course. We find the Turkish intervention in the Palestinian issue under the pretext of condemning the Israeli violations. Erdogan visited Syria, Jordan and Egypt and met President Mubarak to assess the Israeli aggression on Gaza and condemn the war.
While on the economic level the trade relations between the two countries have not been greatly affected, although they have been somewhat soured in recent times, it becomes clear to us that the volume of trade in the period from 2009 to 2013 reached 5 billion dollars, and the number of joint cooperation agreements reached 100 cooperation agreements, The two countries are linked to a free trade agreement signed in (2005-2020), in addition to signing two memoranda of understanding in the field of energy in Egypt and facilitating travel and transportation procedures between the two countries (2), opening branches for Turkish banks in Egypt and Egyptian banks in Turkey and the shipping line agreement “RoRo”. In 2012 (3).
- Egyptian-Turkish relations after the January 2011 revolution:
This stage was marked by the flourishing of Egyptian-Turkish relations, as it witnessed many mutual political visits between the two countries, and the relations reached a climax of cooperation with the arrival of former President “Muhammad Morsi” to power and his first visit to Turkey, which lasted only 12 hours in which the president attended one of the AKP activities, which was criticized by the opposition The Egyptian government considered it to diminish the image of Egypt and its president, and 27 new economic agreements were signed, and the two sides pledged to raise trade exchange to $ 5 billion.The year 2013 AD is considered the worst year in the history of Egyptian-Turkish relations, as the Turkish Prime Minister at the time, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, violated all political and legal norms (the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of countries) and diplomacy between the two countries when he tried to talk about the Egyptian issue in a council session. Security also when he described the demonstrations hostile to the rule of “Mohamed Morsi” and the army’s support for the demonstrators in the military coup, in addition to launching attacks and media campaigns against the Egyptian regime claiming that it is an illegal regime, which resulted in: Egypt decided to reduce its diplomatic representation in Turkey and expelled the Turkish ambassador from Egypt (4).
In 2014 AD, with the election of President “Abdel Fattah El-Sisi” as President of Egypt, then Turkish President “Abdullah Gul” congratulated President “El-Sisi” on his election, which angered “Erdogan” because it is considered a recognition of the legitimacy of the new government, which harms “Erdogan” political interests. By exporting an unreal image of the situation in Egypt (5).
- Egyptian-Turkish relations in the era of President El-Sisi:
Turkey found its national and regional interests in supporting the currents of political Islam “the Muslim Brotherhood”, especially in Egypt, to which the late President “Muhammad Morsi” belonged, as well as those considered against the ruling regime in Egypt and its policies. Therefore, the Turkish regime began to adopt a hostile policy against the Egyptian regime. With hostile steps and statements that Egypt categorically rejects, some of them are represented in the Egyptian-Gulf dispute with Qatar (the Gulf crisis), the Syrian file, the security agreement with the reconciliation government in Libya (the Libyan crisis), the gas conflict in the Mediterranean and Turkey’s lack of respect for the rules of international law (Eastern Mediterranean crisis) and Turkey’s strategy in building military bases in Arab countries.
_ After President “El-Sisi” took over the rule of the Egyptian state and the beginning of a new phase in the history of the Egyptian state, Turkish President “Erdogan” declared that the June 30 Revolution was a coup revolution against the Muslim Brotherhood regime, and he also accused the Egyptian government at the time of practicing state terrorism, and feelings of hostility did not stop there The limit, but Ankara allowed supporters of the Brotherhood and TV stations hostile to the Egyptian regime to work to attack the Egyptian state from inside Turkey, which has become a safe haven and a destination for all opponents of the Egyptian regime, especially the leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood, which was later classified as a terrorist group (6).
On the other hand, the Egyptian response was very strict, as Egypt canceled the “Euro” agreement in March 2015, which is the first harsh response to Turkey, which it fears the most is the deterioration of its economic relationship with Egypt, especially since this cancellation coincided with the start of the implementation of projects. Several nationalities announced by Cairo and started to bid for these projects in front of major international companies to implement them, and here Turkey felt that it lost economic relations with Egypt forever because it was aspiring to have a share in financing and implementing these projects.The Egyptian responses did not stop at this point, but extended to dealings between the two countries in international forums, where the Egyptian Foreign Minister, Sameh Shoukry, avoided shaking hands with Turkish President Erdogan at the 2016 Islamic Summit in Turkey, and even the Egyptian media went to talk about the possibility of overthrowing the president’s rule. The Turkish “Erdogan”, especially after the 2016 coup attempt, which failed, shows some gloating about the extent of the weakness of the Turkish state and the crises it faces, just as the Turkish media did after the June 30 revolution, so a ceremony in 2017 was to receive a number of Turkish families fleeing the tyranny of the government Turkish justice and development, including the “Fethullah Gulen” group (7).
- Egyptian-Turkish relations after 2017:
Relations began this year to take another course aimed at cooperation and the restoration of economic relations between the two countries, especially after Turkish businessmen were affected by the severing of economic relations with Egypt and the loss of the Egyptian market. Several attempts emerged from the Ben Ali Yildirim government to resume relations again, but with the outbreak of The Gulf crisis between Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE on the one hand, and Qatar on the one hand, with the aim of changing the Qatari government’s policies in support of political Islam groups and terrorist movements, and Turkey’s implementation of the military agreement with Qatar, which was signed in April 2016 AD to establish Turkish military bases on Qatari territory and sent 35 A thousand soldiers were held in Doha in June 2017, and the four countries saw that this agreement threatens the security of the Gulf region. The crisis became more complicated (8), and the provocative Turkish steps did not stop at this point. Rather, he criticized the Turkish president re-electing the Egyptian president again, and Erdogan’s signature of an agreement to develop the Sudanese island of Suakin.
Second: Turkish motives for rapprochement with Egypt.
There are many Turkish motives for rapprochement with Egypt, including internal and external motives. In the recent times, several variables have emerged, which are:
- Turkey fears Biden’s policies and its efforts to improve its relationship with neighboring countries.
- Turkey’s desire to get out of the isolation imposed on it.
- The decline in the popularity of “Erdogan” and his loss in the municipal elections and his exposure to criticism from the opposition side with the approaching date of the next presidential elections 2023 AD.
- Turkey’s fear of Biden’s policies and its efforts to improve its relationship with neighboring countries:
The tracks of Turkish-American interaction are witnessing a state of tension arising against the background of a number of files that reflect divergence and conflict of interests, which escalated during the period of “Trump” rule, and it seems that these differences are likely to exacerbate significantly under the Biden administration, as officials in the American administration expressed During the last period of the new administration’s adherence to its rejectionist position regarding Turkey’s possession of the Russian S-400 air defense system (10), as the US National Security Adviser “Jack Sullivan” stressed, during his talks with the Turkish presidential spokesperson, Ibrahim Kalin, on the America’s rejection of Turkey obtaining this deal (11). He also conveyed the US administration’s intention to enhance security across the Atlantic Ocean through NATO, expressing his concern over Turkey’s access to the Russian missile deal that would undermine NATO’s cohesion and effectiveness (12).
It is worth noting that this file alone is sufficient to stimulate conflict and escalate tension and disagreement between the two sides, which will increase and be integrated with a number of other incentives, which are:
- The human rights file: In connection with what the new administration will adopt under the leadership of “Biden”, giving priority to the value perspective of the values of freedom, democracy and human rights, as they are the main pillar of US foreign policy towards most countries, especially Turkey (13). Human rights are violated, and it demanded an end to the violations committed by Turkey, whether by suppressing university students who reject the policy of appointing those close to Erdogan in sovereign positions or targeting freedom of expression and the press (14). It also criticized Turkey for targeting the values and principles of democracy with repression, as it denounced the Turkish government’s ban on the “democratic peoples” movement, and considers this an offense and a violation of the principles and values of democracy based on pluralism.
- The Kurdish file and the renewed disagreement over it: Washington’s relationship with the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) linked to the PKK is one of the most contentious issues in US-Turkish relations, and the Baydin administration’s position in support of the People’s Protection Units in Turkey is very clear, where the roots of this relationship extend For the Obama administration; Washington considers the Kurdish People’s Protection Forces to be a key partner in fighting ISIS and terrorist militias in Syria. (15) During the reign of US President “Trump”, the United States used to provide an umbrella of support for the Kurdish forces present on the Turkish border, which sparked the conflict with Turkey, which it considered a threat to national security. Turkish.
- The Turkish-Russian rapprochement: The Turkish-Russian rapprochement remains a matter of contention between Turkey and Washington, as well as NATO, and given the danger that this rapprochement poses to the alliance’s cohesion, and this is what emerged in Ankara’s endeavor to form a conciliatory framework with Moscow in order to strengthen its movement outside the closed circles imposed on it. Its relationship with Washington and the NATO countries over the past decades, especially since Turkey’s goal in this rapprochement is to strengthen its regional ambition to enhance its geopolitical position and its Afro-Asian presence (16), and this is inconsistent with American Atlantic interests, as well as increasing economic cooperation in the field of energy between Turkey and Russia through Transporting gas from Russia to Turkey and the countries of Sunrise and Southern Europe, as well as increasing and strengthening counter-cooperation between them, and Turkey’s use of the refugee card and leaving NATO to pressure the countries of the European Union and the Alliance, and this raises the concerns of the United States of America and NATO members.
The escalation and tension of relations between Washington and the North Atlantic countries on the one hand and Turkey on the other hand made Turkey think once again about calming down its foreign policy with neighboring countries for fear of the isolation that the states and NATO might impose on them. Therefore, Ankara began to reduce tension with European countries after a long period. Of push and pull due to disagreements on some issues (the crisis in the eastern Mediterranean, the Syrian and Libyan crisis), as well as the crisis in the Nagorno Karabakh region, as well as its attempts to reform its relationship with Egypt again, as the Turkish presidency spokesman Ibrahim Qalin said on March 6, 2021 AD, A new page can be opened in our relationship with Egypt. ”Then the Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs announced, on March 12, 2021 AD,“ that Turkey is conducting contacts at the level of intelligence and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, ”confirming the start of diplomatic contacts between the two parties (17).
- Turkey’s desire to get out of isolation in the eastern Mediterranean:
The Turkish foreign relations have reached an unprecedented level of tension and crises, in a way that did not leave a circle for Turkey’s external movement without diplomatic problems or crises, as it made Turkey, which had a vital regional role and intense diplomatic activity, to suffer from wide regional and international isolation (18).
The diplomatic crisis with Egypt began, as we mentioned previously, as a result of Ankara’s protest against the isolation of former President “Mohamed Morsi” and its failure to recognize the new administration under the leadership of “President“ Sisi ”. Relations between the two countries began to deteriorate until it reached the point of a diplomatic boycott. The deterioration of Egyptian-Turkish relations took the Gulf states Al-Arabi, especially the “Emirates and Saudi Arabia” supports and supports the new Egyptian administration to fight terrorism and confront Turkish ambitions in the region.Likewise, the normalization movement between the Arab countries and Israel had the greatest impact on Turkey’s policy, which made it reconsider its policy towards those countries because this movement would tighten the cordon of isolation imposed on them, especially in the eastern Mediterranean (19), and the Qatari reconciliation with the Gulf countries and Egypt will increase the stranglehold of isolation. On Turkey, where the Egyptian politician and head of the Library of Alexandria, Mustafa Al-Feki, stated that the Qatari-Gulf reconciliation has made the intensity of hostility not allowing the alliance between Turkey, Qatar, the Gulf states and Egypt at the same time, all these factors made Turkey reconsider its policy towards the countries of the region (20).
- Desire to re-demarcate the maritime borders to exploit its resources without conflict with Egypt:
As we mentioned earlier, there are several factors that made Turkey deviate from its intransigent foreign policy to get out of the cordon of isolation that was imposed on it, especially in the eastern Mediterranean, so Turkey began diplomatic contacts with Egypt to restore relations again, and that was in the wake of the Renaissance Dam crisis and the second filling of the dam, where Turkey declared Its willingness to mediate the Renaissance Dam file as an attempt to win over the Egyptian side for rapprochement and open a way for dialogue (21), and a Turkish political analyst, whose name was not mentioned, explained Turkey’s attempts to rapprochement with Egypt, saying, “The Turkish regime needs Cairo at the present time and is seriously seeking rapprochement with it, after If Ankara feels the size of the dangers that it is facing in the region, ” (22), he also explained that the Turkish government wants to establish new relations with Egypt after its losses in many files in the region, and to benefit from Cairo’s position and its strong relations with the eastern Mediterranean countries, between them Cyprus and Greece Documenting and supporting its external relationship with those countries once again, and entering a “forum.”Gas in the Eastern Mediterranean “, to be able to redraw its maritime borders and benefit from them. Besides Egypt, Ankara seeks to calm tensions with its neighbors in the eastern Mediterranean, such as Greece and Israel, and the Gulf countries, especially Saudi Arabia and the UAE (23).
- “Erdogan” was criticized by the opposition, his popularity declined and he lost in the municipal elections as the date for the next presidential elections in 2023 approaches:
Erdogan’s loss in the municipal elections in Turkey is the biggest evidence of his decline in popularity, and evidence of the people’s dissatisfaction with his policies, as the main reason for Erdogan’s loss lies in the economic difficulties and crises that Turkey faced in the recent period and the devaluation of the Turkish lira in the second half of The year 2018 AD and the withdrawal of foreign investments led to further deterioration and thus the failure of the policies adopted by “Erdogan” internally and externally (24).Some also considered Erdogan’s loss in the elections a clear evidence of the Turkish opposition bloc in front of Erdogan’s and his party’s policies. Erdogan worked to improve his foreign and internal policy, given the approaching date of the next presidential elections in 2023 AD. After losing the municipal elections, the opposition began to pressure him to start the reconciliation with Egypt. In statements made, “Faiq Oztrak,” the spokesman of the Republican People’s Party, the largest Turkish opposition party, during a press conference after the party’s Central Committee meeting at its headquarters in Ankara, “Since the first day of the crisis with Egypt, we have demanded the need to improve relations with it. Because of our national interests, and the days and what we have witnessed in the eastern Mediterranean and the region since 2013 have revealed that our concerns were correct. ” Through the previous presentation of Turkey’s motives to restore its relationship with Egypt again, the reasons that prompted Turkey to rapprochement with Egypt can be summarized in two reasons:
– declared reasons: represented by Egypt offering a tender for oil and gas exploration in its territorial waters in the eastern Mediterranean, and it took into account the legitimate borders of the Turkish continental shelf (Mardin 28 region) and this is what the Turkish Foreign Minister praised and considered that this step will lead to the opening of the door to discussions of demarcating the maritime borders between The two countries.
Unspecified reasons: Turkey’s desire to get out of the isolation that the country has become (25)
Third: Egyptian interests from rapprochement with Turkey:
Economic relations represent the only hope for opening communication channels between the Egyptian and Turkish administration. Despite the deterioration of relations at the political level, economic relations still represent the main pillar of cooperation between the two countries, and this is reflected in the volume of trade exchange between the two countries, as the end of 2020 witnessed the end of the free trade agreement between the two countries signed. In 2005 AD, which sparked talk about the possibility of renewing the agreement regardless of the factors of political disagreement, and the agreement is awaiting re-negotiation in order to renew it, which could create spaces for negotiation between the two countries and pave the way for raising the level of diplomatic representation as an initial step to expand the circles of dialogue on the outstanding issues (Eastern Mediterranean Gas) And Libya) (26).
Speaking about the Egyptian-Turkish rapprochement, it is necessary to mention the factors and motives that could push Egypt to set aside differences to open horizons for rapprochement and strengthen cooperation between the two countries in all fields, and these factors are:
_ Egypt was keen not to open fronts to the conflict at the same time and to devote itself to the file of the Renaissance Dam in light of the near start of Ethiopia for the second filling of the dam in July 2021 AD and the increase in tension between the two countries, which could be reflected in Egypt’s foreign policy towards some countries regarding the pending files, and by going back to the Libyan crisis and the presence of Turkey As an active party in the Libyan file, reaching understandings with Turkey has become part of the Egyptian agenda to support a political solution and peaceful settlement and ensure that Libya does not turn into an arena of conflict between international powers and Islamic groups, as happened in Syria, which is positively reflected on the Egyptian national security. It is a priority for the Egyptian regime, given what these channels represent in terms of a rift in the system in light of their constant incitement to demonstrations, which affects the stability of the country, as well as the crisis in the Eastern Mediterranean and what we are witnessing about the inability of some countries to fully exploit their resources as a result of the dispute on the maritime borders, so reaching agreements Collective inIn light of the rapprochement, it will positively affect the stability of the region and the ability of countries to achieve optimal utilization of their resources (27).
Fourth: the rapprochement scenario and its reflection on the regional situation:
Despite the Turkish efforts to create a new equation in its foreign policy and its direction to restore its relationship with Egypt, the matter will not be so easy due to the multiplicity of obstacles that may hinder the return of relations between the two countries, which are:
_ Turkey’s continued support for political Islam groups, especially the Muslim Brotherhood, and Egypt’s desire to oblige Turkey not to interfere in the internal affairs of Arab countries and respect the legal and diplomatic frameworks and the sovereignty of states, especially Syria and Iraq, and this was shown in a clearer statement of the Egyptian Foreign Ministry’s position on the Turkish violations of the sovereignty of Iraq and Syria. Turkey should respond and make some concessions if it is truly willing to strengthen its relationship with Egypt, and this is what appeared in the statement of the Egyptian Foreign Minister, Sameh Shoukry, when he said, “We do not look at statements, but rather actions.” (28)
_ On the other hand, the Egyptian regime has established over the past years a series of strategic alliances with the Gulf countries in addition to its alliance with France, Greece and Cyprus. Therefore, the Egyptian regime must take into account the concerns of those countries before embarking on the path of rapprochement alone, which could weaken these alliances and affect Egypt’s relationship. In those countries, which appears in the conflicting views on rapprochement and indicates that the Egyptian position has not yet been decided, given that Egypt is a country in which institutions cannot impose certain policies on the president. Rather, the president is the one who presents his options to the institutions (29).
In order to achieve reconciliation or rapprochement, it is not conceivable that one side will ask the other for radical changes in the policy or behavior of the ruling regime, but negotiation may include making some concessions with calm and adjusting the political discourse to create spaces for negotiation and open horizons for cooperation, and this confirms Marcus Aurelius’ saying in politics. You cannot change the character of men, use them as they are. ” However, through the political facts presented on the ground, Egyptian-Turkish relations can go in two directions, namely:
– Keeping things as they are: Given the Egyptian regime’s skepticism about the reliability of the statements of Turkish officials and their belief that these statements are nothing but a political maneuver to deceive the Egyptian party and to calm public opinion in Turkey, which could be a trump card for Erdogan in the upcoming 2023 presidential elections.
Cautious reconciliation: It is subject to the conditions announced by Egypt, which are the cessation of Turkey’s support for political Islam groups already, as the Qatari support has decreased as a result of the Gulf reconciliation and the Al-Ula agreement 2021 AD, non-interference in the internal affairs of Arab countries and respect for their sovereignty, as well as taking into account Egypt’s interests with its strategic allies (France, Greece, Cyprus) And collective action to improve Turkish relations with neighboring countries.
Given that the international arena is a field for testing assumptions and scenarios, the coming days will highlight the extent of Turkey’s credibility in its policy towards rapprochement and the direction towards achieving one of the presented scenarios, and was the Turkish courtship and courtship a retreat from the confrontational policy pursued by “Erdogan” and events proved the futility of this policy under the circumstances The current and changes that have occurred in the international and regional situations, or is it just a political maneuver by Turkey to get out of its current state?
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(7), (8), (9) What is the core of the dispute between Turkey and Egypt? BBC https://www.bbc.com/arabic/middleeast-56464441
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(11) The United States Criticizes Turkey’s Acquisition of the Russian S-400 System, ”Al-Ahram Gate, February 3, 2021. https://gate.ahram.org.eg/News/2571126.aspx
(12) Sullivan: Turkey’s acquisition of S-400 missiles authorizes NATO, ”Sky News Arabia, February 3, 2021. https://www.skynewsarabia.com/world/1412499
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