On Friday Islamist Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan called Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi an “illegitimate tyrant” and that Egypt “could not be relied upon” to broker a peace treaty between warring Israel and Gaza militant group Hamas.
Formerly an ally of deposed president Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood, AFP reported that Erdogan said Egypt is guilty of blocking humanitarian aid to Hamas—forged from principles similar to the Brotherhood—coming in through the Rafah border crossing on the Gaza strip in north Sinai.
Egypt and Turkey have suffered from strained relations since the 3 July 2013 military backed ouster of Morsi.
On 23 November of last year, Turkey and Egypt both expelled one another’s ambassadors after Erdogan made comments the Ministry of Foreign Affairs described as garnering “support” for groups aiming to destabilise Egypt, and “interference in the internal affairs of the country”.
More recently, in February, Erdogan said his government would not recognise “a regime that has undertaken a military coup” in an interview with Al Jazeera English.
“As the AK Party [the ruling party in Turkey] government, we cannot accept a regime that has undertaken a military coup,” said the Turkish prime minister. He continued: “If this military coup was done by someone else we would not recognise them either.” He also described then-Minister of Defence Al-Sisi as a “coup maker” and said the upcoming presidential elections in Egypt “are already questionable”.
“The voice of the Egyptian people is the source of legitimacy and it is their will that determines the future of the nation and to choose their leadership,” retorted Egyptian foreign ministry spokesman Badr Abdelatty.
On 3 June, after the presidential election that put Al-Sisi in office, the Egyptian foreign ministry summoned the Turkish Charge d’Affaires to express “displeasure with some comments made by Turkish officials about the Egyptian presidential election” which allegedly circulated in local Turkish media outlets.
The statement did not specify the nature of the comments made, but noted that the statements “reflect a lack of knowledge or willful inattentiveness to the electoral process, which was characterised by integrity and transparency and was at the centre of attention of the international community” adding that both national and international NGOs observed Egypt’s second presidential elections in as many years.
In the ensuing crackdown since on Muslim Brotherhood leaders and supporters after Morsi was removed from office, Turkey has emerged as a sympathiser to the now outlawed group, which was listed as a terrorist organisation in December.
According to international watchdog Human Rights Watch, Israel delivered “more than 500 tons of explosives in missiles, aerial bombs, and artillery fire” since the beginning of the military operation on 7 July. Israel said it launched the military operation in order to “stop Hamas rocket fire at Israel”. The IDF said that since 8 July, Hamas has fired nearly 1, 250 rockets into its territory. Israel has hit over 1,100 targets inside the strip.
The HRW report also states: “Palestinian armed groups also should end indiscriminate rocket attacks launched toward Israeli population centres.”