Recent politic developments in the Middle East have led to a positive move in uniting Egypt and Turkey. Following the time of unrest that has been labelled ‘the Arab spring’, the government of Turkey are keen to strengthen ties with their Egyptian allies.
Last week the Egyptian President, Mohamed Morsi, paid a visit to Turkey and signed a billion dollar loan agreement to give support to bilateral trade. President Morsi has also endorsed the idea of Cairo opening a new TV channel in Egypt that will be aired in the Turkish language. Since the beginning of the Egyptian Presidents rule, he has made it clear that he wants to encourage solidarity between the Middle East and Turkey.
Turkey is similarly keen to push for better relations between the two countries; they have historically preferred to deal with Egypt as opposed to other Middle Eastern countries such as Iran or Saudi Arabia. Since Turkey’s parliament voted to authorise the deployment of troops in Syria they have provoked escalating tensions in the region. In retaliation to this reaction, the Turkish government was quick to insist that they were not seeking confrontation but alternatively trying to deter Damascus from any further strikes. Relations with Syria have worsened for both Turkey and Egypt since the beginning of the rebellion against Assad and this is has not gone unnoticed by either side.
Turkey and Egypt share a joint interest in opposing Iran’s nuclear program, a common interest that has united them. They have discussed a future in which they can combine their efforts to resolve the Palestinian peace problems and Israel’s regional conflicts.
Although there are many reasons for Turkey and Egypt to come closer together, there are also several obstacles still between them. Firstly it seems that Turkey is sceptical of Morsi’s intentions for Egypt as President, they are wary of the fact that there is no clear foreign policy strategy yet. Secondly, there is the potential for competition between the two countries in the future as they both have high ambitions to be seen as the leader of the Middle East.
However for the time being Turkey and Egypt are putting their potential differences aside to come together in unity, hopefully setting an example to the rest of the Middle East.