Officials in Egypt are demanding an immediate and total boycott of Turkish goods, and even a breakoff of diplomatic relations between the two countries, Egyptian media reports said. The call is the latest chapter in the steady and ongoing decline in relations between the two countries, with Turkey accusing Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi of everything to “illegitimacy” to “terrorism” to “war crimes.”
The sour relations between the two countries have their roots in the overthrow of former Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi by the al-Sisi led Egyptian army several years ago. Since then, Turkey has slammed al-Sisi as being a “dictator” who is “persecuting Muslims.” Just last week, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he would welcome seven top Muslim Brotherhood figures being forced to leave Qatar, indicating his strong ties with the Islamist group – and by extension with its Gaza offshoot Hamas.
“In the event that they request to come to Turkey, then necessary investigations will be carried out. …If there are no obstacles, the mandatory convenience provided to everyone will also be provided to them,” Erdogan said on returning from an official trip to Qatar, reports the Turkish Hurriyet Daily News.
“They can come to Turkey just like any other foreign visitor, if there are no problems,” added Erdogan, in a position contrary to that of most Arab states which have supported Egypt’s crackdown on the group.
Tensions between the two countries were exacerbated during Operation Protective Edge, when, according to Turkey, Egypt took an active role against Hamas, assisting Israel in battling the Gaza terror group, and saying he could not be relied upon to negotiate a truce with Israel. “Is Sisi a party (to a ceasefire)? Sisi is a tyrant himself,” Erdogan was quoted by the AFP news agency as having told reporters. “He is not different from the others,” he said, adding that it was Egypt’s current rulers who were blocking humanitarian aid channels to Gaza.
Egypt, for its part, has had enough, reports in the Egyptian media said Monday, and the government was seriously considering a total economic boycott of Turkey. In a statement, Egypt’s Foreign Ministry slammed a speech by Erdogan at the World Economic Forum last week, in which he repeated many of his accusations against al-Sisi and his government.
Turkey, the statement said, “has been suffering over the past 12 years of Erdogan’s rule of non-democratic practices with all disregard to human rights.” The statement also denounced Erdogan’s restrictions on freedom of expression “as well as the use of excessive force against political activists and peaceful protesters, citing the closure of social networks such as Twitter in a flagrant breach of the freedom of opinion as well as restrictions on press and judiciary, corruption charges as well as unjust sentences against journalists and writers.
“Such recurrent practices and non-democratic acts could never give Erdogan any ethical or political justification for speaking about democracy, but they only reflect a personal ideology for the Turkish leader who has illusions about restoring the glory of the Ottoman Empire away from the national interests of his country and people,” it added.