Is Egypt's "diplomatic offensive" against foreign Islamist backers an "offensive" against its future?

Published November 26th, 2013 - 06:12 GMT
Cairo expelled the Turkish ambassador in August following Ankara's PM Erdogan's condemnation of Egypt's violent crackdowns on Morsi supporters (Gianluigi Guercia/AFP)
Cairo expelled the Turkish ambassador in August following Ankara's PM Erdogan's condemnation of Egypt's violent crackdowns on Morsi supporters (Gianluigi Guercia/AFP)

The Egyptian government's "diplomatic offensive" against the Muslim Brotherhood's foreign backers has been developing to a new extent over the past weeks, according to Agence France-Presse.


In the most recent episode, Cairo has reduced its ties with Turkey to the level of charges d'affaires. Previously, Egypt and Turkey both recalled their resppective ambassadors in August following Ankara's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's public condemnations of Egypt's repression of Morsi supporters. Ankara later sent its ambassador back to Cairo, but as of Sunday, Egypt has officially expelled the diplomat from the country indefinitely.


According to Paris-based analyst Karim Bitar, the recent strains between Egypt and Turkey arises from "increasing Egyptian nationalism and bitter regional setbacks for Turkey, including in Syria, which has seen it lose influence [in the region]."


Cairo has previously strained its ties with Gulf countries as well, the first public incident often considered the July 2013 shutdown of the Egypt branch of the Qatari-based network, Al-Jazeera, and the detention of some of its journalists accordingly.


Egypt also returned a Qatari donation to the government earlier this year in protest of the Gulf peninsula's support of Muslim Brotherhood groups in the country.


However, according to Cairo University professor Mustafa Kamel al-Sayyed, the diplomatic tensions between Egypt and Ankara, as well as Qatar, "will only be temporary" since Cairo will not want to "aggravate" ties "where hundreds of thousands of Egyptians are working as expatriates because ultimately it could be those employees who pay the price".


Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the UAE, on the other hand, have been received well by the interim government in Cairo, largely due to their financial pledges to the country following Morsi's ouster and promise in October that they would "make up for any shortage of military assistance Cairo normally [receives] from the United States" after Washington announced it would suspend its annual $1.3 billion military aid package to Egypt in protest of the interim government's crackdowns on Morsi supporters.


However, according to Bitar, "some Gulf countries have warned that the economic aid given to Egypt was emergency assistance and not intended to be a steady financial backing". The challenge for Egypt going forward may therefore be "more economic rather than making the legitimacy of the new authorities acceptable internationally."


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