BY ZEYNEP GURCANLI
It is obvious that the elections in Turkey next year will bring about transformation in many areas.
Whichever side wins, either the ruling alliance or the opposition alliance, the country looks set to undergo a major transformation. As a matter of fact, the first steps of this transformation have already begun. It was Egypt’s turn to experience the normalization moves that started with the AK Party government’s end of its regional “loneliness” strategy.
The transformation in relations with Egypt was expected to be one of the most painful in the region due to the close relations between the Muslim Brotherhood administration, which was overthrown by President Sisi, and the AK Party government. As a matter of fact, Erdogan’s rhetoric personally targeting Sisi after the Cairo coup still has not been erased from memory.
Cairo and Ankara were on two opposing sides of a conflict over the Muslim Brotherhood, and for years they competed to “trip” each other on almost every issue in the international arena.
THE SISI-ERDOGAN HANDSHAKE
However, when this ceased to be sustainable, especially for Ankara, which was struggling with the economic crisis, signs of rapprochement began to appear.
The sight of Erdogan and Sisi shaking hands at the FIFA World Cup hosted by Qatar was hardly surprising given the steps taken in just the past month.
The first visible critical sign was the presence of an Egyptian government member at the October 29 reception held by Ahmed Saleh, Minister of Trade and Industry, at the Turkish Embassy in Cairo. Immediately after, the Minister of Environment and Urbanization Murat Kurum, who attended the UN Climate Change Summit hosted by Egypt on behalf of Turkey, had a meeting with Egyptian Foreign Minister Samih Shukri in Cairo.
As a result, a handshake photo emerged, facilitated by Qatar, the host of the World Cup. The fact that Qatar, which has supported the Muslim Brotherhood for years, made peace with Sisi long before the AK Party, has been greatly helpful.
THINGS AREN’T ALL GOOD
However, despite this rapprochement between the two countries, it is too early to say that “everything has improved” between Ankara and Cairo. There is still contention over Libya, as well as diverging interests in the Eastern Mediterranean. It is possible to predict that comprehensive negotiations to overcome these problems will only take place after the 2023 elections in Turkey, no matter which alliance wins.
WINNER OF THE MONTH: SISI
Sisi, who carried out normalization with Erdogan without making any concessions from his sharp stance on the Muslim Brotherhood or his stance against Turkey in Libya and the Eastern Mediterranean, is the clear winner of this situation. However, that’s not the only success Sisi has had this month. The COP27 Climate Summit held in Sharm El Sheikh was very profitable for Egypt, economically, politically and financially. The presence of many world leaders, especially US President Joe Biden, at the summit shined a good light on Egypt, overshadowing the anti-democratic and anti-human rights practices of the Sisi administration. Thanks to COP27, Egypt has consolidated its position as the “leading country in Africa” as well as its leading actor position in the Arab world. In this context, it was important that Turkey announced its $150 million aid package to Africa to combat climate change in Egypt. Egypt’s economy also made significant gains from this.
Thanks to COP27, the USA, Germany, and the EU announced that they will give a financial aid package of 500 million dollars to Egypt to be used for clean energy. For the Sisi administration, this means both “international legitimacy” and the opportunity to create new employment opportunities in the country. The issue of clean energy has been so popular in Egypt that 40 percent of all investments in the country in the last year have been in this field. The fact that Egypt signed an 83 million dollar renewable energy agreement during the COP27 summit is a concrete indicator of this.
Around the world, both the international system and the economic system are changing rapidly. What was discussed at the COP27 summit in Egypt is a concrete indicator of this situation. Further, the Ukraine war reminded us how close the danger of nuclear conflict is, and the whole world is discussing shared issues such as the development of clean energy sources, the fight against climate change, and the introduction of artificial intelligence into production. The “human rights criterion” in industrial production is now critical on the Western front with a law enacted by Germany. Its global spread is only a matter of time. Of course, Turkey needs to discuss these issues in order not to fall behind this wave of change.
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