Egyptian-Turkish relations are still going through a dark tunnel, the end of which does not seem to be clear in the near future, given the state of caution that casts a shadow over the public scene, despite the steps taken by Ankara in recent months as “goodwill” gestures.
In the early days of last May, a Turkish delegation headed by Assistant Foreign Minister, Sedat Onal, visited the Egyptian capital, Cairo, in a first-of-its-kind step in years, and its tasks were summed up in making the first breach in terms of pushing for “reconciliation.”
Since that period, and despite the positive statements that followed the first meeting, neither Ankara nor Cairo took any other steps, unlike the new relationship witnessed by the Qatari capital, Doha, starting with the visit of the Egyptian Foreign Minister, Sameh Shoukry, And up to the appointment of Egypt’s ambassador extraordinary to Qatar on Wednesday.
There is currently talk within Turkish circles about an upcoming visit that an Egyptian delegation will make to the Turkish capital, Ankara, in the coming days, which Cairo has not confirmed so far.
On the other hand, it was remarkable in the past hours the new step taken by the Turkish government regarding the Egyptian media operating in Istanbul and opposing the Egyptian regime, and President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi.
The move was represented by a communication received by a number of Egyptian media professionals opposing President Sisi, who stated that they should stop their media activity completely. Not only through television screens, but also through social media, which they had turned to as an alternative and bypass.
The Egyptian media professionals targeted by the communication are Muhammad Nasser, Hamza Zobaa, Moataz Matar, and Hisham Abdullah.
In a video recording posted on social media on Thursday evening, Moataz Matar said: “He asked me for the first time to stop my media activity in Istanbul.”
Matar is considered one of the main media professionals opposing the Egyptian President, Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, and in the past weeks, he had alluded to pressures he is being subjected to in order to completely stop his activities inside Turkish territory.
In the Turkish city of Istanbul, there are several Egyptian platforms and media outlets opposing the regime of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, led by Al-Sharq, Mekameleen, and Watan channels.
As part of its program series, the aforementioned channels have focused over the past eight years on showing political programs against the Egyptian regime, especially President Sisi.
On the other hand, in the past eight years, Turkey has received Egyptian opposition leaders, including those affiliated with the “Muslim Brotherhood”, whose details of their file are not known in the next stage.
For his part, the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the “Al-Sharq” channel and the leader of the “Tomorrow’s Revolution Party”, Ayman Nour Al-Balagh, confirmed to the Egyptian media by the Turkish government.
Nour said in statements to Media: “What happened recently does not aim to completely shut down the channels or even stop other political programs. The media professionals were informed of the temporary cessation of media activity.”
Nour, who lives in Istanbul, adds: “I was present at the meeting in which the report was submitted, and there is no request to stop the channels completely at the present time.”
To moisten the air
Analysts and researchers who spoke to Media believe that the step taken by the Turkish government in the past hours falls within the context of “wetting the atmosphere”, in order to prepare for the upcoming visit that the Egyptian delegation will make to the capital, Ankara.
It is noteworthy that the aforementioned step was preceded by steps and indirectly strained the atmosphere. In the forefront of which is the article published by the Turkish President’s advisor, Yasin Aktay, through the Print Media”, in which he criticized the recent Egyptian judicial decision to support the death sentences of 12 prominent members of the Muslim Brotherhood, asking: “Scenes of mass executions, where will Egypt lead?”
Karam Saeed, an expert on Turkish affairs at the Center for Political and Strategic Studies, describes what is happening in Egyptian-Turkish relations at the present time as “a kind of slow penetration.”
Said in statements to MEdia: “Cairo deals with the issue with patience and a lot of caution, especially after the return of opposition programs broadcast on the eve of the Brotherhood’s death sentence, and the accompanying article published by Media.”
The Egyptian researcher adds that the official Egyptian circles received the article that Aktay published with a “bad autopsy”.
On the other hand, Saeed points out that the Turkish communication that reached the opposition media yesterday is inseparable from the “Egyptian penetrations” in the region, whether in Qatar or in the new alliance with Greece, up to the penetration related to the Eastern Mediterranean file and the Libyan file.
Fan in place
For his part, the Turkish researcher, Muhannad Hafez Oglu, asserts that the course of Egyptian-Turkish relations “is still stymied,” and the reason is that “Cairo does not have a clear strategy in dealing with Ankara. It seems that the openness it showed was for temporary and not long-term reasons.”
The Turkish researcher said in statements to Media: “If the mentioned reading is correct, we will witness this temporary stalemate in relations despite Ankara’s assertion that it still supports dialogue with Cairo and looks forward to more coordination and cooperation in more than one regional file.”
Hafizoglu continues, asking: “Will the Libyan file be the obstacle, even though it was the key? This question may be answered by the Egyptian delegation that will visit Turkey soon.”
Although the timing of the visit of the Egyptian delegation was not specified or confirmed by Cairo, the Turkish researcher sees this announcement as “a good indicator. We can say that the course of relations will become clearer based on this move, whether positively or negatively.”
Caution reigns supreme.
And earlier this June, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told Media Chanel: “We have great potential to cooperate with Egypt in a wide range of fields from the eastern Mediterranean to Libya.”
He added that he “loves” the Egyptian people “and therefore we are determined to resume this process (normalization of relations).”
This was followed by statements by the Egyptian Foreign Minister, Sameh Shoukry, in an interview with the Egyptian journalist Ahmed Moussa on the “Echo of the Country” channel, in which he said that Egypt has requests and expectations from the Turkish side.
Shoukry stressed that Ankara’s observance of these demands would ease the difficulties between the two countries, and open the way to explore the extent to which there is a shift in Turkish policy.
And according to what the Media monitored, politicians close to the Turkish government indicated on Thursday that “there is a culture of bargaining in Egypt that does not suit Turkey and therefore is not accustomed to it.”
Politicians alluded to the high ceiling of Egyptian demands, which prevents the acceleration of the process of reforming relations.
“There is a possibility of holding a second round scheduled in Ankara between the two sides,” says Dr. Karam Saeed, an expert at the Center for Political and Strategic Studies.
In his speech to Media, he added: “With regard to the future of the relationship, caution will prevail in the current stage, and we may witness in the medium term achieving tangible progress in breaking the tension and the return of diplomatic relations. The entire relationship is subject to resolving disputes.”
At a time when Cairo is calculating its steps with Ankara, the latter is trying to focus on the need to proceed with the dialogue, even if it is in stages and at a slow pace.
However, the Turkish researcher, Muhannad Hafizoglu, believes that “if Cairo is not realistic in its proposal, this may lead to a negative reaction on the part of Ankara.”
He told Media: “Egypt must take a pragmatic view of the important regional player Turkey, otherwise we will witness quarrels that may develop into escalations and then into tensions, and this is neither in Egypt’s interest nor in the interest of the region.”
The researcher added: “It must be emphasized that the Egyptian side should be realistic so that Ankara can negotiate with it, negotiate and discuss it. Otherwise, we are drawing lines in the air.”
While the Turkish political analyst, Firas Ridwanoglu, goes to another path in evaluating the Egyptian-Turkish relations at the present time.
In statements to Media, he said that the current stalemate we see may be related to reopening the Libyan file on the one hand, in addition to the pressures imposed on Egypt more than Turkey.
Radwan Oglu added, “There are regional countries in the region that are trying to attract Egypt with it against Turkey because the differences are known between these countries and Turkey regarding strategic and geo-strategic interests. This burdens Egypt in taking the decision and speeding up its implementation.”