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Egyptian reactions to Turkey’s suspension of diplomatic relations with Israel

Overwhelming support has met Turkey's move to expel the Israeli ambassador from Ankara, while some wonder why Egypt isn't doing the same

Nada Hussein Rashwan, Saturday 3 Sep 2011
Ahmed Davutoglu
Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu speaks during a news conference in Ankara (Reuters)
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A UN report issued this week on the Freedom Flotilla incident, where Israel boarded an aid ship bound for Gaza and killed a number of activists, prompted Turkey to suspend relations with Tel Aviv. Turkey’s move caught much public attention in Egypt, due to recent events that occurred in Sinai where five Egyptian soldiers were killed by Israeli forces.

Since the border incident two weeks ago, protests have been sustained at the Israeli embassy in Cairo, demanding the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador from Egypt and/or withdrawing the Egyptian ambassador from Israel in response to the killing of the soldiers. Several political forces in Egypt also called for suspending relations with Israel in response to the killings.

The flotilla incident, which took place in spring of last year, involved clashes between Israeli forces and the Turkish aid flotilla Mavi Marmara, which resulted in the death of nine Turkish activists by Israeli fire. Israel, for its part, refused to apologise for the deaths, claiming its actions were in self-defence. Tension loomed over Turkish-Israeli relations ever since, but it was not until yesterday that ties were formally cut off upon the release of a UN report on the incident.

After Turkey’s move, debate was stirred over the similarities between the incidents affecting Egypt and Turkey, and the differences in outcomes. As a variation on its response to Turkey, Israel expressed regret over the death of the Egyptian soldiers, but offered no apology.

Some political analysts linked the situations together, attributing Turkey’s escalation to feeling discomfort over of Israel expressing regret for the deaths of the five soldiers on the Egyptian border, while refusing to apologise, or even express regret, over the attack on the flotilla.

Some among Egypt's possible presidential candidates gave their response to Turkey’s escalation and what they think about Egypt doing the same.

Amr Moussa, former secretary general of the Arab League and a possible presidential candidate, wrote on his Twitter account that Turkey’s expulsion of the Israeli ambassador “came at the right timing.” He also insinuated that Egypt should follow Turkey’s lead when he wrote "I think that Egyptian diplomacy should recall Egypt's ambassador in Tel Aviv until Israel apologises for penetrating the Egyptian border and killing Egyptian soldiers.”

Also, Ayman Nour, head of Al-Ghad (Tomorrow) Party and another possible candidate for the presidency, told Egyptian Newspaper Al-Dostour, that “despite the presence of strategic cooperation between Turkey and Israel, the Turkish decision in this situation was biased towards principles and not interests.” Nour also expressed his hope that post-revolution Egypt should study Turkey’s example concerning its internal and external affairs.

Another possible candidate, Hamdeen Sabahi, head of Al-Karama (Dignity) Party, told Al-Dostour that “the Turkish stance of expelling the Israeli ambassador and freezing military agreements with the Zionist entity is a victory for national honour and an expression of a foreign policy that [defends] the interests of the state and rejects the policy of arrogance and humiliation of Zionism.”

Sabahi also asserted that what happened is a “firm response against the Zionist stance,” and that the Turkish position is “a clear lesson of the Arab regimes, which always argue that taking such a firm stance against the arrogant racist Zionist policies could lead to war with Israel.”

On the other hand, some question whether if it would be beneficial for Egypt to escalate tensions with Israel. Emad Gad, a researcher at Al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies, told Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaper that the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador from Ankara “will not mean anything, while if Egypt expels the Israeli ambassador, it would strain relations and prompt the mobilisation of military forces on the border.”

Other Egyptian responses to Turkey’s escalation were supportive of the move. The Muslim Brotherhood released on its official website a briefing from the International Forum for Islamic Parliamentarians on the expulsion. The briefing stated that “the Forum values the step taken by the Turkish government to expel the ambassador of the Zionist entity, suspend joint military agreements and reduce the level of diplomatic representation with the entity, in response to a United Nations report on criminal practices undertaken by the Zionist occupation forces against the 'Freedom Flotilla' in May of 2010.”

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suzanne
06-09-2011 08:11pm
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Turkey & Israel
To A Reader: You claim that a UN report found that the terrorist state of Israel was right to blockade Gaza! What UN report? The Un sec. gen. is appointed by America and the former Newzeland ambassador(Palmer) to chair this pathetic committee was appointed by the US. Meanwhile the US is ruled by AIPAC meaning the Jewish lobby. I hope the Egyptian government will do the same and cut off all relations with the war criminal of Israel.
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5



Expat
04-09-2011 07:53am
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Turkey Israel
Turkey does not have a peace treaty with Israel. Egypt does.
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onder
04-09-2011 01:10am
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options
It seems that many players are starting to see how strong their hands actually are against the excesses of the Israeli governments. Turkey, Egypt and others have many tools (economic, diplomatic, judicial etc) that they can use. No need to scare people with an all out war.
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A reader
03-09-2011 09:13pm
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UN Report
It's regrettable that you don't mention crucial pertinent facts: A UN Panel appointed bu the secretary general found that Israel had a right to block the Marmara's entry to Gaza under international law. The report also scorned Israel for using excessive force. The Turks are angry because the report showed that they were wrong to send the ship. Regarding the 5 Egyptian soldiers, Israel claimed they died in hot pursuit by its forces after armed militants crossed the border from Israel and killed Israeli civilians. Israel apologized to Egypt, not just expressed regret.
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ben
03-09-2011 08:21pm
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turkey
i am sure egypt would impose a blockage which would be legal if someone was importing rockets AND shooting them. gaza is free of any occupation but persists in attacking israel thru hamas rather than developing like dubai. pretty simple
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Nikos Retsos
03-09-2011 07:33pm
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Turkey’s suspension of diplomatic relations with Israel
The political landscape in the Middle East is changing. Turkey under Tayyip Erdogan has taken control of its foreign policy, previously controlled by the U.S., as was Egypt's under Hosni Mubarak. I hope that Egypt's Supreme Armed Forces Council follow on Mr. Erdogan's path, and bring back to the Egyptians the pride they once enjoyed under Gamal Abdel Nasser. Turkey is certainly disgusted now with the U.N. Report that says that Israel's blockade of Gaza was legal. And that is why the Turkish president, Abdullah Gul, trashed that report as biased. And it certainly was. The U.N. assignment to New Zealand's Godfrey Palmer, and to Colombia's Alvaro Uribe, both close allies of the U.S., to investigate the "Food For Gaza" flotilla incident was an aberration. Both of those gentleman have a history of serving the U.S. interests, and there was no way that they could produce an objective report that would have blamed Israel! Never! For that report the U.N. should have commissioned per
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