Cairo- “No permanent enmities or permanent friendships.” This seems to be the saying of Turkey on one side, and Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE on the other, after years of political estrangement, mutual accusations, media escalation, and the use of all available pressure cards for each country.
From this pragmatic principle, the relations between the four countries are witnessing a trend towards re-normalizing relations at all levels, starting from the “Al-Ula” summit that was held on the fifth of last January, and resulted in an end to the siege imposed by the Arab Quartet (Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain) on Qatar. Since June 2017.
Although the paths to normalizing relations with Turkey were agreed upon by the Quartet regarding cutting or freezing its relations with Ankara, the return was unilateral, as each country took a different path in its return towards normalizing its relations with Turkey as required by its own interests.
If the negotiations are progressing rapidly between Turkey on one side and the UAE and Saudi Arabia on the other, it is rather slow with Egypt, as the discussions between the two countries through diplomatic delegations for months did not result in a significant breakthrough towards normalizing relations, or exchanging visits at high levels.
On October 29, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that the dialogue between his country and Egypt is continuing. However, the process of mutual appointment of ambassadors has not yet begun.
On the other hand, normalization reached its climax between Turkey and the UAE, when Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan visited Ankara yesterday, Wednesday, for the first time in nearly 10 years, at the invitation of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, where the two sides signed 10 agreements and memoranda of understanding in a number of The areas that contribute to strengthening cooperation relations and opening new horizons for joint work between the two sides.
Last May, the Turkish Foreign Minister visited Saudi Arabia and held official talks with Saudi officials, in the first visit of a high-ranking Turkish official after the estrangement that occurred between the two countries following the assassination of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018, in his country’s consulate in Istanbul.
The Egyptian slowdown in the normalization of relations with Turkey – in contrast to the Emirati acceleration and the Saudi rapprochement – raises a fundamental question regarding the different accounts of Cairo from those of Abu Dhabi and Riyadh in the matter of normalizing relations with Ankara, and what are these files? Are the negotiations between the two sides fluctuating in light of the thaw between its allies in the Gulf states and Turkey?
In this context, political science professor Khairy Omar identifies 3 heavy files that he believes slow the pace of progress in negotiations between the two countries. It is the file of demarcating the maritime borders in the Mediterranean, the Libyan file and what it includes in the presence of Turkish forces on Libyan soil, and the file of leaders and members of the Muslim Brotherhood residing on Turkish soil.
Speaking to Al-Jazeera Net, the Egyptian academic residing in Turkey explained that such files are among the important issues for both sides, and any progress in normalizing relations depends on achieving successes in all of them, whether by reaching understandings or mutual concessions, in light of the stalemate of negotiations in their place, and their inability. to make little breakthrough so far.
However, Omar added that the differences between the four countries are concentrated in the political file only, but the economic relations work almost naturally and almost isolated from the political differences that spanned for many years. He added that the UAE, Egypt and Saudi Arabia are important trading partners of Turkey, and vice versa.
Ambassador Abdullah Al-Ashal, the former Egyptian assistant foreign minister, described the issue of the three countries normalizing their relations with Turkey as a matter of time, regardless of the outstanding issues between them, “even if each country acts according to its interests, in light of the redrawing of relations in the politically tense region.” , according to him.
Al-Ashaal stressed – in his speech to Al-Jazeera Net – that whenever Saudi-Emirati-Turkish normalization progressed, that Egyptian negotiator urged that the Egyptian negotiator reach a preliminary political settlement regarding the outstanding and thorny issues with Turkey, which is a good thing for all.
However, Al-Ashaal ruled out that the Brotherhood’s file would affect the re-establishment of relations between the two sides. At the same time, he expected that the negotiations would witness a new impetus in the coming days. Because the rapid developments require everyone to zero in on crises.
At the beginning of last month, in response to a question about the developments in relations between his country and Turkey, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said that there is some progress in relations with Turkey, which we hope will be built upon.
On the eighth of last September, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said that the second round of exploratory consultations with Egypt confirmed the two countries’ desire to make progress on issues under discussion and normalize relations.
According to a joint statement following that round, the two sides agreed to continue those consultations, and affirmed their desire to make progress on the issues under discussion, and the need to take additional steps to facilitate the normalization of relations between the two sides.
It is noteworthy that the first round of exploratory talks between the two countries was held in Cairo on the sixth and seventh of last May at the invitation of the Egyptian side, and at the end of it a joint statement was issued describing the talks that took place in frank and in-depth.
Turkish fidgeting and Egyptian sluggishness
On the other hand, Turkish political analyst and economic expert Yusuf Kateboglu believes that his country’s policy aims to remove all differences with regional countries, especially some Arab countries, in the context of its keenness to restore relations to its previous era with Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt, but it does not go in parallel. Because there are unresolved issues here and there.
In a statement to Al Jazeera Net, Kateboglu described the situation between Egypt and Turkey as frozen, despite holding two exploratory tours during the past few months, noting that the negotiations are not proceeding in an optimistic manner; Because of the Egyptian position on the status of Turkish forces in Libya, and the well-known position of the Turkish government towards members of the Muslim Brotherhood on its lands, in addition to the Egyptians’ reluctance to demarcate the maritime borders.
Davutoglu believed that the chances of reaching a consensus in rebuilding relations between Turkey and the three countries will be greater with the UAE and Saudi Arabia than with Egypt, which has not resolved many of the files that put it at the forefront of the negotiations, despite the clear Turkish demands to focus on common points and benefits at that stage.