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Monday, July 15, 2024

The causes & consequences of the Turkish-Egyptian rapprochement

From then up until last year, the US sought to weaponize the Gulenists, militant Kurdish separatists, and the Egyptian-GCC nexus against Turkiye, which saw the latter’s traditional Armenian and Greek rivals exploiting these dynamics to jump on the bandwagon in order to maximally pressure it.

Turkiye and Egypt released a joint statement on Tuesday announcing the full restoration of diplomatic relations after the return of their respective ambassadors to one another’s countries. Ties had been tense for most of the past decade after Ankara opposed the military coup that replaced the late Muslim Brotherhood-aligned former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi with then-Army Chief General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi almost exactly ten years ago to the date.

At the time, their problems were a mix of ideological and political. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood wasn’t just based on his views about the optimal way to run majority-Muslim societies, but also could have led to Ankara informally leading a collection of likeminded states had that group swept to power all across West Asia-North Africa (WANA). The US-backed “Arab Spring” of 2011 was the catalyst for this potential theater-wide geopolitical transformation.

Read more: Gulf support for Turkey’s Erdogan is about more than economics

Understanding the matter better

Turkiye was on much better terms with that now-rapidly declining unipolar hegemon back then, which could have thus resulted in the reimposition of American influence over WANA via that country as its “Lead From Behind” partner in this transcontinental space. These fast-moving ideological-political developments had direct security implications for the Gulf Kingdoms, most of whom regard the Muslim Brotherhood as terrorists, as does Russia. Accordingly, they’re suspected of backing Sisi’s 2013 coup.

In the decade since Egypt has practically become an unofficial member of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), so closely is it nowadays financially and militarily connected to that bloc’s dual Saudi-Emirati core. As a passionate believer in the Egyptian state’s historically secular policies, he ruthlessly rooted out all traces of the Muslim Brotherhood in the Arab World’s most populous country, which reduced the unconventional security threats that his Gulf allies-financiers feared could emanate from there.

The supplementary effect of his successfully doing so served to smash Turkiye’s speculative geopolitical plans that were previously explained, as did the eventual stalemate that came to characterize the Syrian War in which this neighboring nation played a leading role orchestrating and waging by proxy. With time, the security consequences blew back into Turkiye after the resultant chaos gave a fresh wind to militant Kurdish separatism that was later directly supported by the US.

As President Erdogan recalibrated his regional policy to accommodate for these strategic setbacks as well as to wisely avert the chances of a conflict with Russia either by miscalculation or via American manipulation, Turkish-US ties plummeted and reached their nadir with summer 2016’s failed coup. He blamed the US for being behind it through its hosting of exiled radical cleric Fethullah Gulen, who’s regarded by Ankara as the leader of a global terrorist network.

From then up until last year, the US sought to weaponize the Gulenists, militant Kurdish separatists, and the Egyptian-GCC nexus against Turkiye, which saw the latter’s traditional Armenian and Greek rivals exploiting these dynamics to jump on the bandwagon in order to maximally pressure it. To an extent, sporadic tensions with Israel were also a factor that the US tried to weaponize against Turkiye too. Altogether, this targeted country found itself under a lot of pressure and at risk of regional isolation.

The past sixteen months since the start of Russia’s special operation in Ukraine and the proxy war with NATO, which emerged as a result of the Anglo-American Axis sabotaging Moscow’s peace talks with Kiev, sparked far-reaching geostrategic changes across WANA. Turkiye proved its sovereignty by refusing to cut ties with Russia despite voting against it at the UNGA and selling drones to Ukraine, while the Arab World patched up its problems with Syria and China mediated the Iranian-Saudi rapprochement.

Furthermore, the resolution of the intra-GCC crisis over Qatar in early 2021 set the basis in hindsight for Turkiye’s peninsular ally to explore the possibility of facilitating Ankara’s rapprochement with that bloc, which was advanced by Presidents Erdogan and Sisi meeting at the World Cup that it hosted last year. All these developments converged to peacefully resolve one of the last sources of potential conflict in this megaregion.

Turkiye and Egypt realized that their national interests are best served by going along with these regional peace processes instead of remaining noticeable holdouts, especially since doing the latter made it easier for third parties like Armenia, Greece, and those two’s US partner to divide and rule them. That’s not to say that either of them came together with the intent of sending America a signal, nor that Egypt’s ties with Armenia and Greece will automatically suffer as a result, but it’s still worth pointing out.

Read more: Muslim Scouts unite to aid earthquake survivors in Syria and Turkey

Those three – Armenia, Greece, and the US – should respect Egypt’s sovereign right to repair its decade-long troubled relations with Turkiye if they truly regard the Arab World’s most populous country as an equal partner. Likewise, those of Turkiye’s supporters across WANA who might oppose President Sisi for ideological reasons should also respect the Turkish leader’s related decision, which serves his country’s interests too. Anyone who opposes the Turkish-Egyptian rapprochement exposes their devious agenda.

The global systemic transition to multipolarity that predates Russia’s special operation but was unprecedentedly accelerated by it is leading to increased stability in WANA despite Western fearmongering forecasts to the contrary. Far from regional faultlines worsening to the point of open warfare or at least an even more intense cold war between traditional pairs of rivals, this megaregion is coming together to create the trappings of a separate civilizational pole in the emerging world order.

It’ll take time to fully form, but the trend is that the international Muslim community (“Ummah”) is gradually consolidating as its many previously divided members resolve their differences in pursuit of the greater collective good. With most of WANA on the same strategic page, it’s only a matter of time before their shared multipolar vision spreads to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s (IOC) partners in Central-South Asia and West-Central Africa, not to mention Indonesia in Southeast Asia and others.

So long as the IOC is able to preemptively thwart divide-and-rule plots from the US and other non-member states and peacefully resolve those disputes that still arise among them despite their best aforesaid efforts, the “Ummah” will inevitably become a global force to be reckoned with. All sincere supporters of multipolarity should therefore appreciate the latest step that was just taken in that direction after the Turkish-Egyptian rapprochement since it greatly speeds up multipolar processes.