Towards a thaw between Ankara and Cairo? Erdogan and Sissi shake hands for the first time – RT in French

Towards a thaw between Ankara and Cairo? Erdogan and Sissi shake hands for the first time – RT in French
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Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan exchanged handshakes for the first time during the opening of the World Cup in Qatar. A gesture that portends a diplomatic warming?

Turkish Presidents Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi exchanged their first handshake on November 20 on the sidelines of the opening of the FIFA World Cup in Qatar, according to the Turkish presidency. A manager of the latter confirmed in the evening to AFP this “first bilateral contact” between the two leaders, during the opening ceremony of the championship.

Libya, bone of contention

A snapshot, posted on the official website of the presidency, shows the two leaders exchanging a smiling handshake. The photo is among others showing the smiling exchanges between Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the heads of state and government present to attend the festivities in Qatar.

Cairo and Ankara have been cold since Abdel Fattah al-Sissi came to power in 2013, after the overthrow of the president from the Muslim Brotherhood, Mohamed Morsi. Recep Tayyip Erdogan then claimed that Mohamed Morsi, who suddenly collapsed in the middle of a trial in Cairo in June 2019, “had been killed”.

“I will never talk to someone like him,” he had also asserted a few months earlier, after the execution of nine death row inmates in Egypt for the assassination of Attorney General Hicham Barakat in 2016. Cairo had accused members of the Muslim Brotherhood exiled in Turkey and the Palestinian Hamas of being behind the attack.

The two leaders also disagreed on many issues, particularly on the Libyan question. Last October, in the company of Greece, Egypt denounced the prospecting of hydrocarbons carried out by Turkey in Libyan waters under an agreement with the government of Tripoli which they consider “illegal”. In 2020, amid a clash between the two rival governments in Libya, Egypt had even made arrangements for a possible military intervention in the country alongside Marshal Haftar’s forces against theGovernment of National Accord (GEN) – replaced in March 2021 by the Government of National Unity (GNU), supported by Turkey.

Change of gear?

However, during an exchange with the Turkish press last week, returning from the G20 summit in Indonesia, the Turkish president had hinted that he was ready to review his relations with Syria and Egypt.

We can even start from scratch, especially after the June elections

“We can reconsider relations with countries with which we have had difficulties. We can even start from scratch, especially after the June elections,” he said in response to a question, according to the official Anadolu agency. President Erdogan has announced that he will be a candidate for his own succession in presidential elections scheduled for June 2023. In Cairo, the Egyptian presidency refrained from commenting.

In 2019, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad told Italian television that he would feel “disgusted to deal with this kind of opportunist Islamists”, speaking of the Turkish president. He had however assured that he was ready to make this effort for the interest of his country, if necessary.

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