Isolated Erdoğan wants to reset ties with Egypt

After years of enmity, Turkey is seeking to reset relations with Egypt as a part of a broader strategic move in the face of its growing isolation, analysts told the Voice of America.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is trying to turn back a policy of supporting the Muslim Brotherhood during the Arab Spring to achieve the goal, VOA said on Tuesday, citing the analysts.

Relations between Turkey and Egypt have been fractured since Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, backed by Ankara, was ousted in a military coup in 2013 and pro-coup president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi began a crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood. Following the coup, both countries withdrew their ambassadors.  

Last week, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu signalled an effort to normalise relations, saying that Ankara and Cairo could sign a maritime agreement, depending on the course of bilateral relations. Turkey's presidential spokesperson İbrahim Kalın said on Monday that a new page could be turned with Egypt for the sake of regional peace and stability.

Turkey committed a policy mistake by supporting the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and now it has realised that the group does not have the chance of coming to power again, said Hüseyin Bağcı, an analyst for the Foreign Policy Institute in Ankara, according to VOA.

"But how to get out of this wrong policy in public is Erdoğan's problem. Turkey officially cannot say we will renounce this support. Erdoğan will not say this officially. But probably slowly, he will move from his official position of being anti-Sisi,” Bağcı said.

Egypt is acting against Turkey due to the latter’s Islam-based policies such as backing the Muslim Brotherhood, said Cem Gürdeniz, a retired Turkish admiral.

"When Turkey leaves the religious policy, I am sure Turkey-Egypt relations will be better," he said.

In response to Turkey signing a maritime agreement with Libya in late 2019, Egypt ratified a strategic deal with Greece in October, allowing for both countries to seek maximum benefit from hydrocarbon resources available in an exclusive economic zone in the Mediterranean, including oil and gas reserves.

Turkey is eyeing a similar agreement with Cairo to weaken Egyptian ties with Greece, VOA said. 

“For tango, you need two, and Egypt is not so interested,” Bağcı said.

“Egypt wants to show to its public that Turkey has done wrong. Turkey is like a demanding gentleman who wants to dance. But the lady has been disappointed before by the gentleman, so it will take time to dance again,” he said.