Egypt and Turkey, two of the Middle East’s largest and most influential states, have developed diametrically opposed foreign policies since downgrading their diplomatic ties four years ago. With leaders in both countries continuing to consolidate power domestically, the region should brace for the impact of competing influences in the power struggle between Cairo and Ankara. In an email interview, Yasser El Shimy, adjunct professor at George Washington University in Washington D.C., discusses the evolution of Egypt-Turkey ties, how their foreign policies have become increasingly competitive, and what outside forces have done to exacerbate tensions.
WPR: How have Egypt-Turkey relations evolved over the pre-and-post Egyptian revolution period, and what was the political fallout in relations from the 2013 military-led coup in Egypt?
Yasser El Shimy: Turkish-Egyptian relations oscillated wildly in the years between 2009, under former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, and 2013, when Mohammed Morsi was overthrown as president. Under Mubarak, Ankara had decided to aggressively encourage bilateral trade and direct investment in Egypt. The market of over 80 million consumers was attractive at a time of global recession, and an increased economic footprint was meant to enhance Turkey’s growing regional role.