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Historic visit of the head of Egyptian diplomacy to Syria and Turkey on Monday

Published on : 02/26/2023 – 19:47Modified : 02/26/2023 – 19:49

For the first time in a decade, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri will visit Syria and Turkey. This visit, scheduled for Monday, represents “a message of solidarity from Egypt” towards the two countries bruised after the February 6 earthquake.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Choukri will visit Syria and Turkey on Monday, February 27, two countries with which Cairo had been in diplomatic cold turkey for a decade before a recent warming, his cabinet said on Sunday.

This visit “is a message of solidarity from Egypt with these two brotherly countries after the earthquake” of February 6 which killed nearly 46,000 people in Turkey and Syria, the ministry statement said.

In the aftermath of this earthquake, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi had called his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad, an unprecedented conversation between the two heads of state.

Abdel Fattah al-Sisi then called Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, his former great enemy with whom he had exchanged his very first handshake in November at the World Cup in Qatar.

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The heads of Egyptian and Syrian diplomacy had also spoken by telephone and Cairo sent several planes of humanitarian aid to Syria and Turkey.

Bashar al-Assad has been diplomatically isolated, especially from the Arab scene since the start of the repression of a popular uprising born in 2011 which degenerated into a civil war.

An Arab delegation welcomed in Damascus

But since the earthquake that devastated Syria and Turkey, Arab countries have resumed contact and sent aid to Damascus, which could take advantage of the tragedy to break out of its diplomatic isolation, experts believe.

In the Arab League, for several years, capitals led in particular by Baghdad, have been gaining more and more supporters for a return of Syria within the organization, deeply divided and losing momentum.

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Sunday, a first step could have been taken because a delegation of heads of Arab parliaments was welcomed by Bashar al-Assad.

Among them was the Speaker of the Egyptian Parliament Hanafy El-Gabaly, described by the Egyptian state press as “the highest Egyptian leader received in Damascus” for more than a decade.

Relations have never been completely severed between Cairo and Damascus and the highest official of the Syrian security services, General Ali Mamlouk, even made his first public visit abroad in 2016 since the beginning of the war in Syria in 2011.

With Turkey, relations have only warmed up very recently, while Cairo and Ankara have been cold since Abdel Fattah al-Sissi came to power in 2013.

Turkey ready to ‘start from scratch’ with Egypt

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a great ally of late Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, repeated that he would “never” speak to “someone like” Abdel Fattah al-Sissi.

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But in November, returning from the G20 summit in Indonesia, the Turkish president said he was ready to “start from scratch” with Cairo. Shortly after the two men shook hands in Qatar and Ankara immediately published the photo.

The two men “reaffirmed the depth of the historical ties between the two countries and the two peoples” and decided on the “beginning of the development of bilateral relations”, said Cairo at the time.

Ankara, a great supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood, and Cairo, which considers them “terrorists”, however support opposing camps in Libya: Turkey has sent military advisers and drones against Marshal Khalifa Haftar, a strongman from the East, supported in particular by Egypt.

On the commercial level, the two countries have strengthened their exchanges: they have increased from 4.4 billion dollars in 2007 to 11.1 billion dollars in 2020, notes the Carnegie research center

With AFP

Source: France 24



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