Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s willingness to talk with Egypt could forge renewed cooperation between the estranged regional powers and help efforts to end the war in Libya.
Relations between Egypt and Turkey deteriorated after the government of Mohamed Morsi, close to the Muslim Brotherhood, was toppled in 2013.
Recently, however, Turkey has begun working to rebuild ties with Egypt and Gulf Arab states, trying to overcome differences that have left Ankara increasingly isolated in the Arab world.
On the agenda are plans to resuming the Egyptian embassy’s operation in Tripoli facilitating the people’s movement, supporting trade, and starting direct flights.
Moreover, the two sides signed partnership agreements in various fields, electricity, communication, infrastructure, technical cooperation and investment. The two sides also agreed to activate the Libyan-Egyptian Joint Higher Committee and to hold its 11th session as a step towards fostering bilateral cooperation.
Egypt’s Prime Minister Mostafa Mabouly has stressed supporting national efforts aiming at reaching reconciliation, restoring unity in Libya and achieving development for the Libyan people, also Egypt is keen on supporting all Libyan institutions in their efforts to settle the crisis in Libya to achieve development and prosperity for the Libyan people.
Since 2015, Libya has been divided between warring administrations, one in the east and one in the west, both backed by different foreign powers. The new Libyan unified interim executive authority was selected in February with the assistance of a United Nations-mediated process that brought together various delegates from Libya’s warring factions, also comprised four leaders to guide the oil-rich country through to national elections in December, with Mohamed Menfi chosen to head a three-men Presidency Council and Abdul Hamid Mohammed Dbeibah as interim prime minister.
Erdogan’s spokesman and adviser Ibrahim Kalin told Reuters that intelligence chiefs, as well as foreign ministers of both countries, have been in contact, and a Turkish diplomatic mission will visit Egypt in early May.
In the interest of the two presidents, Turkey asked Egyptian opposition television channels operating on its territory to moderate criticism of Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi, the former military chief who toppled Morsi.
Egypt welcomed the move but has been publicly cautious about Turkish calls for better ties between the two countries, which have also supported rival sides in Libya’s conflict. In the end, rapprochement with Egypt will certainly help the security situation in Libya because we fully understand that Egypt has a long border with Libya that may sometimes pose a security threat.
Turkey has sought to improve ties with Gulf Arab heavyweight Saudi Arabia, which were thrown into crisis by the 2018 killing in Istanbul of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Saudi Arabia welcomed the trial in Saudi Arabia which last year jailed eight people for between seven and 20 years for Khashoggi’s murder.
In the end, it appears Turkey wants to control the region, but not through conflicts, but through interest.