Turkey’s growing influence in Yemen stirs Egypt’s security concerns - The Arab Weekly

Turkey’s growing influence in Yemen is fuelling security concerns in Egypt over the Red Sea and the Suez Canal, said Amr Emam writing in The Arab Weekly on Sunday.

Emam, a Cairo-based journalist, said that Turkey has taken a greater political role in Yemen’s war-torn southern region through the country’s local branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, which is helping Turkish charities gain influence.

“The Islah (Reform) party is instrumental in giving Turkish institutions and the Turkish government, all masquerading as charity organisations, access to Yemeni cities,” Yemeni political analyst Mahmud al-Tahir told Emam. “Turkey has interests in abetting the Muslim Brotherhood and giving it more power on the Yemeni stage.”

Emam said that the Reform Party, Yemen’s branch of the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, has long been an important political party in the country, but has gained more power in recent years and is represented in the government of Prime Minister Maeen Abdulmalik Saeed, which is based in the southeastern port city of Aden. 

“Brotherhood-affiliated officials and ministers have taken trips to Ankara to lobby officials with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) to be more active in Yemen, particularly by investing in the country’s transport sectors and ports,” said Emam.

Turkey’s deputy interior minister, İsmail Çataklı, visited Aden and held talks with Saeed in January. Erdoğan had asked a team of aides to prepare a report about humanitarian needs in Yemen, said Emam.

Analysts in Cairo told Emam that the Egyptian government is concerned that Turkey’s increased presence near the Bab el-Mandeb strait, through which Gulf oil is transported before reaching the Suez Canal, will threaten the security of Egypt and Gulf Arab states.

Egypt is at odds with Turkey due to Ankara’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood abroad, and a competition over resources in the Eastern Mediterranean, said Emam.

Fighting between a Saudi-led military coalition and Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen has killed some 10,000 people and wrecked the country’s medical, water and sanitation systems, resulting in multiple outbreaks of cholera and other deadly diseases, the United Nations has said.