The prime minister of Turkey will visit Egypt for the first time in 15 years Monday, potentially to forge an alliance between the two countries that could ultimately isolate neighboring Israel.
In the last couple of years, Israel’s diplomatic ties with both Turkey and Egypt have been tenuous at best. In August, Israel killed five Egyptian security officers during a scuffle with Palestinians on the border. In May of last year, Israel used “excessive and unreasonable” force, according to a U.N. report, while raiding a flotilla, killing nine Turks.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is expected to seek out ways the two countries can cooperate and possibly even lend the post-Mubarak government some much needed financial aid. Israeli officials have expressed fears that Erdogan could persuade Egypt to follow in his example and downgrade diplomatic ties with Israel, or as one anaylst says, even “hook up with the Egyptian Islamists, who are growing in influence.”
Given that Islam is the dominant religion in Egypt, the latter is not unlikely, but certainly not something to fear in and of itself. —BF
Turkey may be ready to invest a lot of money and effort into building Egypt as a regional ally,” said Alon Liel, a former Israeli envoy to Ankara. “He may try to persuade them to downgrade relations with Israel.”
According to Yossi Alpher, an Israeli analyst and co-editor of the BitterLemons website, Erdogan “is flexing Turkey’s muscles. He’s now trying to project Turkish influence into Egypt. There’s concern that he will offer financial aid to Egypt, which needs it desperately, and that will give him a degree of influence. There’s concern that Erdogan will hook up with the Egyptian Islamists, who are growing in influence. And there’s concern that he will persuade the Egyptians to allow him to visit Gaza, where he will proclaim himself its saviour. None of this is good from Israel’s perspective.”
Flickr / World Economic Forum (CC-BY-SA)
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the World Economic Forum in 2009.