February 15, 2024 | Flash Brief

Turkey, Egypt Presidents Meet to Repair Ties, Call for Gaza Ceasefire

February 15, 2024 | Flash Brief

Turkey, Egypt Presidents Meet to Repair Ties, Call for Gaza Ceasefire

Latest Developments

The presidents of Turkey and Egypt called for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas during a February 14 meeting in Cairo. Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan traveled to Egypt for the first time in more than a decade, where he met with Egypt’s Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in an effort to rebuild relations between Cairo and Ankara, end the Gaza war, and promote bilateral trade. Erdogan received a red carpet welcome upon his arrival.

During the meeting, Erdogan and Sisi urged Israel to halt its plans for a military operation in the southern Gazan city of Rafah, which is located on the Egypt-Gaza border. Erdogan has been highly critical of Israel in its war against the Iran-backed terrorist group Hamas, while Sisi has been involved in ceasefire negotiations. The two discussed expanding bilateral trade to $15 billion and exploring possible cooperation in energy and defense.

Expert Analysis

“When al-Sisi seized power from the Muslim Brotherhood, Ankara made itself an enemy of the new regime, referring to Sisi as a ‘dictator,’ and boasted of Turkey’s ‘precious loneliness’ as top critic of the Egyptian coup. Now Erdogan is eating crow as he attempts a reset with Egypt. As long as he supports the Muslim Brotherhood in and out of Turkey, Egypt will continue to be suspicious of Erdogan’s intentions and unpredictability.” Sinan Ciddi, FDD Non-Resident Senior Fellow

“Cairo sees its relationship with Turkey as critical for a few reasons. Egypt seeks to utilize Turkish leverage over Hamas political leadership in the diaspora and to cooperate on stabilizing Libya, especially since both countries have experience in reconstruction projects. Most importantly, Cairo seeks to secure Turkish investments, especially in the Suez Canal Economic Zone. One challenge, though, is that Cairo’s anti-Muslim Brotherhood elite circles cannot forgive Erdogan for supporting the outlawed organization.” Haisam Hassanein, FDD Adjunct Fellow

Repairing a Strained Egypt-Turkey Relationship

Relations between Turkey and Egypt broke down in 2013 when Sisi, then Egypt’s army chief, ousted and jailed then Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi in a military coup. Erdogan, whose Justice and Development Party is affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, spent years attacking Sisi’s government. Erdogan had previously called Sisi a dictator and a tyrant and accused Sisi of murdering Morsi after the Egyptian leader died from a heart attack in a Cairo courtroom in 2019 while serving his six-year prison term.

Despite the accusations, Sisi managed to forge diplomatic and economic ties with other states in the region, including the Gulf Arab nations — which, apart from Qatar, also despise the Muslim Brotherhood. Likewise, Sisi maintained relationships with Israel and Mediterranean states like Cyprus and Greece. Seeing himself isolated in the region and facing a struggling economy at home, Erdogan began to look to mend ties.

Erdogan’s Persistent Attacks on Israel

Since Israel began operations to root out Hamas in Gaza after the terrorist group’s October 7 massacre, Erdogan has continued to ratchet up his rhetoric against Israel and its leaders. On December 27, Erdogan said in a speech that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is worse than Adolf Hitler and is guilty of genocide. Erdogan also said that Israel’s war against Hamas is worse than the Holocaust, in which 6 million Jews died. By contrast, Erdogan has called Hamas “mujahideen,” or freedom fighters.

Turkish and Iranian Presidents Meet and Condemn Israel,” FDD Flash Brief

Turkey’s Erdogan Tries to Distract from His Support for Hamas,” FDD Flash Brief

10 Things to Know About Hamas and Turkey,” FDD Insight


Arab Politics Egypt Israel Israel at War Turkey