Turkey-Egypt, the great thaw in the Mediterranean

First government summit in 8 years, Erdogan looking for allies

06 May, 12:08

    (by Cristoforo Spinella) (ANSAmed) - ISTANBUL, 06 MAG - For nearly a decade, they were the great enemies of the southern shore of the Mediterranean.

    Amidst accusations of "coupism" and "terrorism", Turkey and Egypt aligned themselves on opposite fronts in the reorganisation following the Arab Spring.

    On the one side, the support of Recep Tayyip Erdogan for the Muslim Brothers after the removal of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi in 2013; on the other, the iron fist of Abdel Fattah al-Sisi against political Islam.

    This divergence of interests led to the two giants clashing in the major regional challenges, from Libya to energy resources.

    Now, amidst the worries of the post-Covid economy and the search for new alliances, Ankara and Cairo are meeting again, opening the way for a possible geopolitical turnaround.

    The first Turkish government delegation arrived in Egypt for "exploratory disccusions" that "will focus on the necessary steps that can lead to normalisation of relations between the two countries on a bilateral level and in the regional context".

    The mission is being carried out at the level of deputy foreign ministers, which could turn into a subsequent face-to-face between the foreign ministers themselves, something that Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has already said he is willing to do.

    To prepare the way for these "political consultations", there were a series of outstretched hands in recent months.

    Public and behind-the-scenes gestures included the resumption of diplomatic contacts in March and the increasing pressure on Egyptian media in exile in Istanbul.

    Two of the most famous anchormen stepped aside, accepting the change of course without much protest, given the alternative of prison that would await them at home in Egypt, where they are considered "terrorists" as supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood, which has been banned in Egypt since 2013.

    This thaw in bilateral relations could have possible repercussions on regional equilibrium, starting with Libya, where Ankara and Cairo have been the main military sponsors of the parties in conflict but now say they are willing to support a ceasefire needed for reconstruction.

    There is also the challenge in the Eastern Mediterranean, where Erdogan has been making waves with controversial energy exploration, finding himself isolated, however, against a vast front running from Greece and Cyprus, with EU backing, to Egypt, the Emirates and Israel. Peace with Cairo also passes through the critical detente with Arab countries in the Gulf, including Saudi Arabia.

    By setting aside the clash on the killing in Istanbul of Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, in this case as well Erdogan - who spoke with King Salman on Wednesday - is heading straight to a new season. (ANSAmed).

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