First Talks

Turkey has faced increasing isolation in recent years, at least in relation to its immediate neighbours and the surrounding area.

The most painful alienation may have taken place in the case of Egypt. As the most populous country and historical powerhouse in the Arab world, the country is of paramount importance in the region. And after the Muslim Brotherhood under Mohammed Mursi took power in 2011, Ankara could hope for a longer-term alliance.

But nothing came of it.

In 2013, there was a military coup, and the same military under Field Marshal as-Sisi took control of the country again. This was a serious setback for Turkey, which, encouraged by the turmoil of the Arab Revolution, wanted to spread its model of Sunni conservative governance in the Middle East. To this end, it allied itself with the Muslim Brotherhood at the beginning of the last decade.

Since the 2013 coup, there have been practically no relations between the two governments, a circumstance that Israel, Cyprus and Greece in particular are trying to exploit by seeking cooperation in the energy sector.

The renewed understanding with Turkey could of course jeopardise this project, and the joint condemnation by Western states of Egypt’s repression of the population, the first of its kind since 2014, testifies to the West’s nervousness about this cooperation. However, the fact that Biden is much more critical of Saudi Arabia, one of Egypt’s closest allies, than Trump has ever been, may have contributed to Egypt’s outreach to Ankara.

How the relationship between these two regional powerhouses develops is one of the key questions for the Middle East.

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