Egypt’s Minister of Foreign Affairs issued a request on Thursday for Turkey to pull its troops out of Syria, an indication of ongoing tensions between the two countries despite Ankara and Cairo’s efforts to improve relations.
“When I spoke, I emphasized the need for preserving Syria’s sovereignty as well as its territorial integrity.” Sameh Choukri, the Egyptian minister of international affairs, was quoted as saying, “I also said that foreign forces should withdraw from the territory of Syria.” regarding his conversations with his Turkish colleague while they were both present at a press briefing held jointly in Ankara on Thursday. According to Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu’s response, “We are committed more than anyone” to maintaining Syria’s territorial integrity.
“The fight against terrorism is our top priority,” he said. It is critical that we have a presence in that region, not only to protect ourselves from potential dangers but also to thwart any initiatives that seek to partition Syria,’ he explained. Since Abdel Fattah al-Sisi came to office in 2013, after the ouster of President Mohamed Morsi, who was close to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, relations between Cairo and Ankara had been frosty.
On the other hand, Turkey has been working hard for the past several months to try to repair its relations with a number of regional heavyweights, including Egypt and Israel. However, the presence of Turkish armed forces in Syria makes these attempts more difficult. Egypt and other Arab countries have recently resumed contact with Damascus, which has caused confusion in the United States government. However, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has placed a condition on the talks with his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. This condition requires that Turkish forces be withdrawn from Syria.
Following the catastrophic earthquake that struck Turkey and Syria in February, the head of Egyptian diplomacy traveled to Turkey toward the month’s conclusion. The earthquake was responsible for the deaths of over 50,000 people in Turkey and Syria. Following that, Mr. Cavusoglu welcomed Mr. Choukri at a press conference in the port of Mersin, which is in southern Turkey and where an Egyptian ship carrying humanitarian aid had just docked. “We are opening new pages in our relations with Egypt,” Mr. Cavusoglu said.
As a result, the presidents of Turkey and Egypt met for the first time and shook hands for the first time at the beginning of the FIFA World Cup in Qatar at the end of the month of November.