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Diplomacy Between Cairo and Ankara
Turkish and Egyptian Foreign Ministry officials meet in Cairo on May 5, 2021, two months after Ankara established the first diplomatic contacts with Cairo since 2013. (Khaled Desouki/AFP via Getty Images)

Diplomacy Between Cairo and Ankara

Al-Masry Al-Youm, Egypt, May 9

The first thing one noticed when observing the recent Egyptian-Turkish meeting that took place in the Foreign Ministry headquarters in Cairo was the fact that the meeting took place at the level of deputy ministers. In diplomacy, this is the lowest level of representation a country can send. And the choice was very deliberate: Until Erdogan proves the seriousness of his intentions in turning a new page in his country’s relations with Egypt, Cairo will treat him with the suspicion he deserves. And who knows? Maybe Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukry will eventually meet his Turkish counterpart Mawloud Gawish. But confidence-building measures will have to be enacted before then. After all, at the same time that Turkey’s deputy foreign minister visited Cairo, a senior delegation of Turkish officials – including the Turkish minister of foreign affairs, minister of defense, and the director of national intelligence – embarked on a visit to Libya, for talks with the newly formed government. In a press conference held with Libya’s Foreign Minister Najla Mangoush and her Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu, a clear discomfort was sensed in the room when, in response to a question posed by one of the journalists, Mangoush called on all Turkish forces present in Libya to leave the country. The Turkish delegation seemed taken aback by the remarks, especially given the understanding it had reached with the previous government of Fayez al-Sarraj. This incident came just a few weeks after Turkey’s defense minister visited northern Iraq without an invitation from the government in Baghdad, resulting in a diplomatic crisis between the two countries. The crisis worsened when the minister announced, during the visit, that Ankara is considering establishing a permanent military base in northern Iraq. These are just some of the recent Turkish mishaps that occurred during official visits of Turkish dignitaries in the region. It therefore comes as no surprise that Cairo is being suspicious and careful of Turkey’s move, even when Ankara formally announces its desire to renew its ties with Cairo.  If Turkey is indeed serious in its intention to mend its relationship with Cairo, which took a hit during the 2013 revolution, then it will have to demonstrate that it is a responsible and reliable actor – not just with Egypt, but with other countries in the region. – Suleiman Judeh (translated by Asaf Zilberfarb)

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