Research studies

The Diplomatic Relations Between Turkey And Egypt

 By researcher: Gehad Gamal Abd El-Alim Ahmed

supervision : AMB. Khair El-Deen Abd El-Latif

Democratic Arab Center


Turkey and Egypt have been at loggerheads since the overthrow of president Mohamed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood government in Cairo in July 2013..

Just over a year ago, in November 2013, Egypt asked the Turkish ambassador to leave, and the two countries have representation only at Chargé d’Affaires level. Since then, there has been a fierce war of words between the two countries, with Turkey consistently attempting to isolate President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi and his government from the international community.. [1]

We need to make use of every opportunity that reveals itself in order to normalize political relations with Egypt. We can start doing so by choosing our words more carefully when addressing Egypt. Cabinet changes made after the August presidential election can provide Turkey a window of opportunity to make some new adjustments.
Turkey-Egypt relations have numerous aspects worth discussing in detail. In this short article of mine, I want to focus on three headlines which cannot be ruled out considering the current state of bilateral relations, namely our two nations’ cultural, economic, and political ties.[2]

Relation between Egypt and Turkey. Egypt and Turkey are bound by strong religious, cultural and historical ties, but diplomatic ties between the two have remained extremely friendly at times and extremely strained at others. For five centuries, Egypt was part of the Ottoman Empire, whose capital was Constantinople in modern-day Turkey. Turkey established diplomatic relations with Egypt in 1925 at the level of Charge d’ Affaires and upgraded its mission in Cairo to Ambassadorial level in 1948. Both countries have embassies and consulate generals in the other’s capitals. Both countries have signed a free trade agreement in December 2005. Both countries are full members of the Union for the Mediterranean. A natural gas deal between Egypt and Turkey—the largest joint Egyptian-Turkish project to date, estimated to cost $4 billion—is being implemented.[citation needed] On 16 April 2008, Egypt and Turkey signed a memorandum of understanding to improve and further military relations and cooperation between the two countries. Relations however have been quite tense on many occasions in history of both countries including theNasser era in Egypt in the 1950s and 60s. It has also strongly deteriorated in the period following the ouster of the Egyptian Islamist president Mohamed Morsi by the military on 3 July 2013.

On 23 November 2013, the Egyptian government expelled the Turkish ambassador in Cairo after a months-long diplomatic crisis.

Egypt is the largest country in the Middle East with a population of 85 million. It is also the uncontested leader of the Arab world. The headquarters of the Arab League is located in Cairo, and its general secretary is usually elected from a pool of Egyptian candidates. In the Arab world, if Egypt is unwilling to do something, it cannot easily be done. Egypt is also the most important member of the African Union. It was one of the three leaders of the Non-Aligned Movement, the importance of which has been reduced under today’s circumstances. Egypt’s diplomacy is well-established and many of its intellectuals are world-renowned. It would be a tragically inaccurate assessment to regard Egypt as a country with decreased influence based solely on the arduous phase though which it is currently passing.( [3])
Turkey, under the rule of the AK Party, surmised that the transformation in the Middle East following the Arab Spring was the precursor of an era to be marked by stability under the dominance of the Muslim Brotherhood’s (MB) ideology. Such an assessment did not warrant criticism under the circumstances of the time, but the unique domestic dynamics of every single country touched by the Arab Spring meant that each set out on a different evolutionary path. While the MB stayed in power but had to take a step back in various fields in Tunisia, the state’s authority couldn’t evenbe asserted at all in Libya. In Egypt the MB was overthrown, and in Syria different factions within the MB began infighting.
Turkey was the country which voiced the loudest criticism of the process that culminated in Mohamed Morsi’s dismissal. It did the right thing when it unreservedly declared the elected president’s ousting as a military coup. But the military administration of General el-Sisi, who staged the coup, was uncomfortable with the vehement manner in which Turkey’s expressed its concerns and with the strong language used by the Turkish government when addressing the new regime in Cairo. As a result, the regime in Egypt declared the Turkish ambassador in Cairo persona non grata. People from my generation whose careers in diplomacy started in the 1960s can easily empathize with this attitude assumed by the Egyptian authorities because they were also obliged to argue in favor of military coups, which used to be a decadal occurrence in Turkey, in the face of foreigners.
If Turkey makes the sweeping assumption thatthe opinions of a single MB faction, the one with which it has direct contact, represent the entire MB’s consensus view, its assessment would be unsound. Moreover, considering the MB’s tendencies to be the shared tendencies of all Egyptian people would be an even more desperate stretch, because in Egypt there is a solid opposition, led by Coptic Christians, liberals, and seculars, which opposes the MB’s policies. ([4])
General Sisi’s junta, which toppled Morsi, considers the MB an illegal movement much like Turkey did the PKK 10-15 years ago. And just like the evolution of Turkey’s perception of and interaction with the PKK, in line with its aim of resolving the conflict in question Egypt will sooner or later make its peace with the MB through democratic means because the MB, as a popular movement, is deeply-rooted in the social fabric of Egypt. As democracy inevitably gains currency in Egypt, the MB’s power will be reflected in the polls in one way or another, but when this will happen is unclear. Nonetheless, allowing Turkey’s relations with Egypt to remain tense in the meantimewill only deteriorate the long-term prospects of Turkish diplomacy and interests in Egypt.
Additionally, Egypt regards Hamas in the same way Turkey regards PKK-affiliated groups in Northern Syria and the Qandil Mountains. If Turkey wants to help Hamas, doing that in coordination with Egypt will increase the likelihood of success.Without winning over Cairo, assistance provided to Hamas will be missing a vital component. And in the case that Egypt disregards us; our efforts to support Hamas will probably reach an impasse. It is commonly known that the Rafah Border Crossing between Gaza and Egypt is the only artery that allows for the sustainment of Gaza today. Cairo is well aware that it holds such unmatched leverage over Gaza and the countries wishing to support it. Therefore, we cannot neglect Egypt’s strong influence over Gaza and Hamas. Even if it didn’t hold such a trump card, Egypt would still be able to block any process throughout the Arab world which it deems undesirable.
Turkey should design its foreign policy toward Egypt in line with two separate targets, one for the short-term, and the other for the long-term.
Its long-term target concerns the Middle East as a whole, including Egypt.
Despite our shared, deep-rooted history with the region, Turkey is less familiar with the Middle East than even many Western countries. Turkey is not well-equipped to read and gauge developments in Egypt and throughout the region, therefore it observes and follows developments in the Middle East through Western sources, and its assessments are made based on information prepared and processed by Westerners. Furthermore, Ankara runs into difficulties in seeing the big picture when it tries to directly gather information from fieldwork because its human capital is insufficient. The number of Turkish personnel who have full command of Arabic is much less than the number of their Western counterparts. By and large, Turkish universities lack research centers for Arabic studies. Think-tanks and similar institutions in our country are also largely incapable of going into greater depth on subjects concerning the Middle East. These think-tanks don’t have permanent offices in Cairo or other Middle Eastern capitols. To quote an article written several years ago by CIA Analyst Graham Fuller, “the Turkish foreign service almost prides itself on not training any experts who know Arabic”. Even though we take cognizance of the issue now, career employees working for the Foreign Ministry are still not sufficiently encouraged to study Arabic when compared with the support their Western colleagues receive therefor from their respective governments.
In order to rectify our deficiency in this regard in the long-term, it would be fitting for us to generate consistent and realistic policies that will be implemented as soon as possible.
In the short-run, we need to make use of every opportunity that reveals itself in order to mend our political ties with Egypt.

We can start doing so by choosing our words more carefully when addressing Egypt. Cabinet changes made after the August presidential election can provide Turkey a window of opportunity to make some new adjustments. At this current juncture, the hardest task before us is providing an honest answer to the question, “did we do anything wrong in our actions until now?”
We also need to try to understand the expectations and demands of social segments of Egypt other than the MB’s grassroots. Those expectations and demands may not be in line with Ankara’s desires and vision, but it isn’t up to Turkey to criticize and judge the Egyptian people based on what they want.
Today, Turkey does not have ambassadors in three major Middle Eastern capitals: Cairo, Damascus, and Tel-Aviv. This situation makes it harder for Turkey to play an active role in the restructuring phase through which the Middle East is currently passing. Turkey needs to take the initiative in putting an end to this dismal state of affairs. Diplomacy is definitely a sensitive craft, and adeptness is required precisely at times like these.([5])

So we have a lot of questions to understand the problem between turkey and Egypt and the how the diplomatic relation between them..

We will present some questions to know the diplomatic relation become and the reasons to have problems between the two countries..


Whether it is the Muslim Brotherhood cause of tension in relations between Egypt and Turkey?

What is the reason for the change in the attitude of Turkey Egypt after sacking Morsi?

What is the position of Turkey from Egypt now?

What is Turkey’s role in the Arab world and in the new Arabian revolutions? How do the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) and other leaders of the Egyptian revolution view Turkey?

Theoretical Approach :

We will the Historical Approach because have historical background..

the historical background Turkey had distanced its self from the Arab world since the establishment of the Turkish Republic. In addition to the western orientation of the young Republic Turkey remained aligned with the Western world during the Cold War due to communist threat. Turkey probably kept itself distanced from the Arab world due its economic and political weakness in the early period. Turkey achieved economic and political development during the 1980s and began to open up to world markets, including to the Middle East. Especially with economic and democratic developments during the Justice and Development Party (JDP) rule during the last decade and thanks to its deliberate and active rapprochement policies to the Middle East.

Turkey has recently gained a huge attention, popularity which helped it further enhance its activities in the region. Along with good neighboring policy, Turkey has recently paid closer attention regarding the regional problems such as the Palestinian problem and the stability of Iraq and Lebanon. Moreover, the popular Turkish soap operas in the Arab world, Turkey’s efforts to lift the embargo on Gaza and its prospering economy and democracy and its new foreign policy perspective encouraging closer relations for peace and good neighborhood caused serious public debates about the possibility of replicating the Turkish model in the Middle East in general and in Egypt in particular. These debates were put forth on the international arena after the emergence of Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions in the early 2011.

The sour relations between the two countries have their roots in the overthrow of former Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi by the al-Sisi led Egyptian army several years ago. Since then, Turkey has slammed al-Sisi as being a “dictator” who is “persecuting Muslims.” Just last week, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he would welcome seven top Muslim Brotherhood figures being forced to leave Qatar, indicating his strong ties with the Islamist group – and by extension with its Gaza offshoot Hamas.

“In the event that they request to come to Turkey, then necessary investigations will be carried out. …If there are no obstacles, the mandatory convenience provided to everyone will also be provided to them,” Erdogan said on returning from an official trip to Qatar, reports the Turkish Hurriyet Daily News .

“They can come to Turkey just like any other foreign visitor, if there are no problems,” added Erdogan, in a position contrary to that of most Arab states which have supported Egypt’s crackdown on the group .

Tensions between the two countries were exacerbated during Operation Protective Edge, when, according to Turkey, Egypt took an active role against Hamas, assisting Israel in battling the Gaza terror group, and saying he could not be relied upon to negotiate a truce with Israel. “Is Sisi a party (to a ceasefire)? Sisi is a tyrant himself,” Erdogan was quoted by the AFP news agency as having told reporters. “He is not different from the others,” he said, adding that it was Egypt’s current rulers who were blocking humanitarian aid channels to Gaza.

Egypt, for its part, has had enough, reports in the Egyptian media said Monday, and the government was seriously considering a total economic boycott of Turkey. In a statement, Egypt’s Foreign Ministry slammed a speech by Erdogan at the World Economic Forum last week, in which he repeated many of his accusations against al-Sisi and his government .

Turkey, the statement said, “has been suffering over the past 12 years of Erdogan’s rule of non-democratic practices with all disregard to human rights.” The statement also denounced Erdogan’s restrictions on freedom of expression “as well as the use of excessive force against political activists and peaceful protesters, citing the closure of social networks such as Twitter in a flagrant breach of the freedom of opinion as well as restrictions on press and judiciary, corruption charges as well as unjust sentences against journalists and writers .

“Such recurrent practices and non-democratic acts could never give Erdogan any ethical or political justification for speaking about democracy, but they only reflect a personal ideology for the Turkish leader who has illusions about restoring the glory of the Ottoman Empire away from the national interests of his country and people,” it added .([6])

Even Pope Francis, when he visited Turkey at the end of November, had to listen to a lecture from President Recep Tayyip Erdogan telling him that he should not have agreed to receive President Sisi, because by doing so the Vatican was boosting the Egyptian leader’s international legitimacy.

Turkish denunciation of Egypt is not based simply on personal ill-feeling between the leaders of the two countries. Both President Erdogan and his prime minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, believe that the authoritarian regimes across the Arab world before the Arab spring were products of Western gravitational pull, denying the masses the system of government they wanted, one which was both Islamic and democratic

This argument was set out at length years before the Arab Spring in  Davutoglu’s writing on international relations. His prescription was a democratic Islamic government closely similar to Turkey’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) but also including the political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood. The latter, in Erdogan and Davutoglu’s views, enjoys a political legitimacy, while military regimes and authoritarian leaders never can.

During the first year or so of the Arab Spring, this argument looked rather plausible. If there had been regime change in Syria and the emergence of a Muslim Brothershood-led administration there, it might have remained so. But by 2013, Turkey was left with Qatar as its only friend in the Middle East, the region it regarded as the core of its foreign policy

The relationship was close, with frequent visits between Ankara and Doha. The Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, visited Ankara in July. President Erdogan was in Doha in September, and on 19 December Sheikh Tamim paid a return visit to Turkey

But the flow of diplomatic exchanges between Turkey and other Arab leaders virtually dried up in 2014, suggesting that Turkey, instead of fulfilling its ambition to be a leader of the Arab world, was badly out of step with almost all of it, particularly the Gulf States and Saudi Arabia

President Erdogan’s advisers have coined an expression, ”precious loneliness”, to describe what they claim is a proud isolation

Furthermore, the deadlock in Turkish-Egyptian relations had serious costs elsewhere. One of the most obvious of these is the increased cooperation between Egypt and Turkey’s regional arch-enemy, the Greek Cypriot government in Cyprus, over prospecting for oil and natural gas in the seabed of the eastern Mediterranean and setting up new transit routes and pipelines.

This undermines Turkey’s attempts to assert its seabed rights as a major littoral power in the Eastern Mediterranean and those of the Turkish Cypriots.

It also creates an unpleasant prospect of having to deal with a de facto informal coalition of Cyprus, Egypt, and perhaps Israel when trying to resolve regional energy issues and perhaps others

Until a week ago, it looked as if policy rigidity and “precious loneliness” would definitely continue to dominate Turkish policy towards the Middle East in general and Egypt in particular. However, warnings about the costs of this policy have grown in recent weeks, with several retired senior members of the Turkish Foreign Ministry calling for a change of direction to defend Turkish national interests

They were not the only ones to do so. During Sheikh Tamim ‘s latest visit to Ankara, the Qataris are understood to have told the Turkish side in private that they were now falling into line over Egypt with other Gulf States and Saudi Arabia.

The shift in Qatar’s position was not entirely unexpected. In September, it ordered the expulsion of exiled Egyptian Muslim Brothers. Erdogan responded by announcing that the exiles would be welcome in Turkey  and moving ahead with plans first announced in the summer for the setting up of an Egyptian assembly-in-exile in Turkey

But the Qatari move leaves Turkey more isolated than ever

In the past week, there have been what could just be first signs of a Turkish thaw towards Egypt. On 20 December, Turkey’s independently minded deputy prime minister, Bulent Arınc, told Al Jazeera Turk of the need to “carry Turkey’s relations with Egypt swiftly to healthier ground”. But he added that Egypt might have to take the first step, saying “We should encourage it”.

Erdogan and Davutoglu have so far said nothing, but on 24 December, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusolu  spoke. Was he also calling for a thaw? It isn’t altogether clear. His words seemed to offer few major concessions to the Egyptian government but hinted Turkey wanted the thaw. Turkey’s quarrel, Cavusoglu said, is not with the Egyptian people but with the Sisi government and its repression. The thaw is not possible unless Egypt moves towards democracy and ends human rights violations

This is of course precisely the sort of international message from the rest of the world that President Erdogan angrily rejects when it is made towards Turkey. After the volleys of insults he and President Sisi have exchanged, an Egyptian climbdown just to please Turkey looks improbable.

Perhaps Ankara would consider a relaxation of measures against some leading Muslim Brotherhood prisoners by Egypt sufficient for a first step. But then what? It is doubtful whether Turkey would respond by closing down Egyptian exile activities on its soil, which would almost certainly be demanded in return by Cairo

The problem, from the Turkish point of view, is that until Ankara does get some sort of dialogue going again with Cairo, its relations with most of the Arab world are likely to languish and the diplomatic impasse will continue. This is increasingly damaging to its prestige inside the country as well as internationally.

So as an alternative, Ankara may experiment by building behind-the-scenes diplomatic exchanges and a moratorium on mutual slanging matches, though President Erdogan is a man who seldom holds back on matters about which he feels strongly. Turkey’s foreign policy on Egypt since the coup has been so vehement that it is a difficult pit to climb out of, even if Turkish policy-makers think the time has come to do so.([7])

In the ensuing crackdown on Muslim Brotherhood leaders and supporters following President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi’s rise to power, Turkey has emerged as a sympathiser to the now outlawed group. The two countries have been exchanging accusations since former president Mohamed Morsi’s ouster in 2013. “Gulf countries have attacked Turkey for its policy towards Egypt,” said İsmail Hakkı Pekin, former Intelligence Department of the General Staff head. Pekin, who had been imprisoned for an attempted coup against Erdogan’s regime, added: “All Arab countries are rooted in what Egypt does”.


it appeared that Turkey is “retreating”, as reported by Egypt’s state-run newspaper Al-Ahram. The recent change in Qatar’s foreign policy towards Egypt was a direct factor for Turkey, Chairman of the International Relations Bureau of the Turkish Workers’ Party Yunus Soner told Daily News Egypt. The Turkish government is taking slow but certain steps to strengthen relations with Egypt, he said

The Turkish Foreign Ministry had declared its support for the normalisation of relations between Turkey and Egypt under certain conditions, which occurred under economic and US pressure to do so. This comes following Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç’s calls for establishing relations with Egypt on intact grounds, yet still referring to the current regime as a “military coup”.

Ministry Spokesman Tanju Bilgiç declared turning to normal relations was possible if in Egypt the people’s will would again be reflected in the political and social life, and if the country returns to full democracy

However, Pekin said that even if Qatar had not changed its policy toward Egypt, Turkey would still have changed its own policy. Qatar, like Turkey, was against Morsi’s ouster, and Egyptian-Qatari ties have been strained since then, resulting in the withdrawal of ambassadors in both countries “Supporting the Muslim Brotherhood was an incorrect Turkish policy. Turkey must accept Al-Sisi as president,” Pekin said. “Egypt, Turkey and Syria all have terrorism problems. They need to get together to make peace”.

Egyptian media mirrors Turkey as a supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood, which is now banned in Egypt, and has been listed as a “terrorist organisation” since December 2013.

Looking at the bigger picture, Soner said: “Turkey is under big pressure from the US. With the current US dollar exchange rate and its economic conditions, it is now forced to have better relations with its neighbouring country”.

One of Egypt’s latest measures against Turkey was the tightening of travel permits to the country, which led to tourism companies cancelling their trips

Erdogan has made comments on Egypt’s internal situation on different occasions, and said in February that Turkey would not recognise the Egyptian interim authorities. He said it was “a regime that has undertaken a military coup”, calling then-minister of defence Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, a “coup maker”.”

Egypt, in turn, replied to Turkey’s statements by accusing Erdogan of spreading lies and “flagrant intervention” in Egypt’s internal affairs. In November, both countries expelled each others’ ambassadors, officially downgrading diplomatic ties between the nations

“Turkey needs Egypt; otherwise there will be problems with Eastern-Mediterranean countries. Without Egypt, all the Middle East countries cannot solve their problems,” said Pekin.[8]

Pekin expects the Turkish-Egyptian relations to improve in all fields, specifically terrorism and respecting the decisions of Egyptian.


4-                ” Al-Sisi refuses intervention amid Egyptian-Turkish turmoil ” , Aya Nader , Daily News Egypt , March 2015.

5-                ” Turkey accused of escalating violence in Egypt”

6-                “Is there a thaw in Turkish-Egyptian relations?”

  • “Egypt downgrades diplomatic relations with Turkey, expels ambassador”

  • “The lost promise of Turkey-Egypt relations”  egypt-relations.html

  • “On Relations between Turkey and Egypt”

[1] ” “In There a thaw in Turkish-Egyptian Relationa


[3] “Egypt and Turkey, an Axis against Democracy?”. democrati. 30 September 2011. Retrieved 30 September 2011.

[4] “Turkish prime minister arrives for visit to Egypt as role widens”CNN. 14 September 2011. Retrieved 15 September2011.

[5]“Egypt and Turkey, an Axis against Democracy?”. democrati. 30 September 2011. Retrieved 30 September 2011.




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