Turkey moves closer to Egypt, away from Muslim Brotherhood

Egyptians and Turks plan to meet in early May to bring them closer together and improve relations
Atalayar_ Recep Tayyip Erdogan

AFP/ADEM ALTAN  -   Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government is planning new moves on the Mediterranean coast, and knows that relations with Egypt are crucial. A good natural gas deal is vital to Turkey's aspirations, and the first signs of rapprochement between the two countries are already appearing on the horizon. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has announced that Turkey will send a delegation to Cairo in early May with the aim of improving diplomatic relations with Abdel Fattah al-Sisi's country. The Turkish mission will be led by Yavuz Selim Kiran, Turkey's deputy foreign minister, while the Turkish foreign minister is keeping an eye on the consequences of the meeting with his Muslim Brotherhood partners, who do not take a positive view of the meeting between Ankara and Cairo. 

In an interview on Thursday, Cavusoglu explained that it was Egypt that had taken the first step by inviting Turkey to its territory in order to make progress in relations between the two countries. He also indicated that a meeting with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry is planned. However, this will take place after Turkey's visit to Cairo. The good feelings about the future suggest, at least according to the Turkish minister, that visits such as the one scheduled for next May will become more common and will be reciprocal between the two governments.

Atalayar_El ministro de Asuntos Exteriores de Turquía, Mevlut Cavusoglu
AFP/ADEM ALTAN - Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu

Turkey has long been moving to gain advantages in the Eastern Mediterranean. The step towards a meeting with Egypt, especially after Al-Sisi's refusal just a few weeks ago, is very important for Erdogan's aspirations. It is also vital to keep negotiations open with Greece and Libya over the maritime border dispute, which so far remains unresolved. Ankara is seeking to break the diplomatic deadlock in which it has been stuck for years - of its own volition - and to gain advantages in obtaining natural gas from the reserves in Mediterranean waters.

Turkey's foreign minister stressed that talks with Greece are a regular occurrence and that they hope, as they are currently doing with Egypt, to be able to approach Athens in the very near future. In fact, Mevlut Cavusoglu is also scheduled to meet with his Greek counterpart, Nikos Dendias, to discuss all matters relating to the maritime borders of the two countries and to try to reach an agreement that will make it possible to unblock them.

Atalayar_Sameh Shoukry, ministro de Asuntos Exteriores egipcio
PHOTO/ Ministry of Foreign Affairs via EUROPA PRESS - Sameh Shoukry, Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs

In the midst of all these talks, problems already familiar to Erdogan's government have arisen. The Muslim Brotherhood is concerned about the rapprochement of what it considers one of its greatest allies with the country that overthrew its president, Mohamed Morsi, a member of the Brotherhood, in a coup d'état. Since then, Turkey has decided to abandon relations with Egypt, but priorities seem to have changed in Ankara, something that has not gone down well with the organisation considered by the United States to be a terrorist organisation.

The ties between Erdogan's government and the Muslim Brotherhood are linked to the conflict in Yemen, in which, as in almost everything else, Turkey is involved. The intention of both sides would be to put an end to the Iranian-backed Houthi militias as soon as possible. There have already been meetings between Turkish representatives and some Yemenis who had to leave the country in exile and are now fighting from the Muslim Brotherhood, devising strategies for the conflict and seeking to attract people, especially young people, to join the Brotherhood.