Turkey opposes Egypt on Muslim Brotherhood in rapprochement snag

Turkey is still against Egypt’s labelling of the Muslim Brotherhood as terrorists, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on Tuesday in comments that underscored a major snag in improving relations between the two countries.

Çavuşoğlu said the Muslim Brotherhood was a legitimate political movement.

“Our relations are not tied to one person or to one party. But we are against the Muslim Brotherhood being declared a terrorist organisation. It is a political movement that is seeking power through elections,” he said in a televised interview with the Habertürk news channel.

Çavuşoğlu said last week that Turkey would send a delegation to Egypt at deputy foreign minister level in early May as the two sides sought to re-establish diplomatic relations, suspended after the Brotherhood was ousted in a military coup in 2013. A meeting with Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shouk may follow, after they spoke on the phone last week, he said.

Turkey, which hosts senior members of the Muslim Brotherhood, asked opposition Egyptian television channels to reduce their criticism of President Abdel Fattah al Sisi’s government last month in a first concrete step towards a thaw.

Sisi led the coup against the democratically elected government of former Prime Minister Mohamed Morsi, leader of the Brotherhood-affiliated Freedom and Justice Party, who was arrested, jailed and then died during court proceedings in June 2019.

““We opposed the coup in Egypt, not because it was against the Muslim Brotherhood,” Çavuşoğlu said. “If Sisi was in office that day and somebody else had carried out a coup, we would have demonstrated the same principled stance.”

Relations between Turkey and Egypt further deteriorated after they have backed rival sides in a conflict in Libya and agreed conflicting maritime deals with countries in the eastern Mediterranean.

Çavuşoğlu said last week that Turkey did not see Libya as an area of competition with Egypt.