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01/22/2020

Are relations between Turkey and Egypt about to blossom

Are relations between Turkey and Egypt about to blossom

The international peace agenda in Libya has been gaining momentum. Egyptian support for the ceasefire plan, which was put forward at the initiative of Turkey and Russia, has led people to wonder if the relationship between Ankara and Cairo might finally improve as a result of mutual interests in the region.

In previous articles we discussed the possibility that Cairo and Ankara might come together under Moscow’s mediatorship. The intervention of Germany, who has cooperated extensively with Egypt (especially in the field of energy) has been an important development in this regard.

A road map of Ankara-Cairo relations

Based on the recent developments and new actors in Libya, as well as answers from my Egyptian colleagues, I can say with confidence that there will likely be positive developments between the coastal countries of the Eastern Mediterranean in the coming days.

Former Egyptian Deputy Foreign Minister Rakha Ahmed Hassan evaluated Egypt’s support for the ceasefire process, saying: “Egypt supports the ceasefire and peace talks in Libya, on the condition that terrorist groups are excluded from the talks. Cairo is advocating a policy in Libya against foreign intervention and in favor of the unity of the country.”

Ahmed Hassan evaluated the planned international conference in Berlin, as “an important opportunity for a solution in Libya,” emphasizing that it “will help the peace process deepens.”

Berlin talks: outcomes and forecasts

Ahmed Hassan also said that it was important for the parties of the war in Libya to meet in Moscow, adding that “Moscow talks will provide the basis for the ceasefire and the conference in Berlin.”

Other sources I interviewed said that the process must be undertaken with sensitivity.

While the talks were underway, our sources, who avoided sending a clear message to Ankara, left our questions unanswered about the possibility of a meeting between Turkish and Egyptian officials in Moscow.

It is worth highlighting the three basic points about the ongoing process in Libya:

1. Ankara and Moscow are aware that there will be no definitive solution in Libya if they exclude the European Union, which is a party to this issue. Likewise, the EU should have understood that progress cannot be made by ignoring Ankara and Moscow, therefore, they have chosen to participate in the process through Italy.

2. The United States is not involved in this process. In regard to the talks between Sarraj and Haftar, the US has only attacked the idea of the Ankara-Moscow axis serving as a mediator. They are also not comfortable with EU countries seeking a common solution with Russia and Turkey in Libya. In the coming days, it is likely the United States will engage in provocations aimed at undermining the ceasefire.

3. Cairo is remiss to exclude dialogue with Ankara. Our partners in Cairo say that limiting relations to commercial channels has made it impossible to solve political problems. The deployment of ambassadors to Cairo would be a major step towards protecting Turkey’s national interests in the Eastern Mediterranean.

 
Onur Sinan Güzaltan
Political expert, geopolitical analyst, journalist (Turkey)

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