Egypt's Sisi declines to hit back at Erdogan, hints at reconciliation with Qatar

Ayat Al-Tawy, Thursday 25 Sep 2014

El-Sisi told a local media delegation he won't reply to offences and alluded to a possible cooling of hostilities with Qatar

Abdel Fattah al-Sis
Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi addresses the 69th United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York, September 24, 2014 (Photo: Reuters)

Egyptian president Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi has declined to snap back at Turkey after leader Tayyip Erdogan had questioned his legitimacy in a speech at the UN General Assembly.

In a biting criticism against the new Egyptian President, Erdogan on Wednesday blasted the United Nations and "democratic countries" for legitimising El-Sisi, whom he said had carried out a "coup,” a reference to the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi.

Erdogan also criticised inaction towards a deadly crackdown against Islamists in which hundreds have been killed and thousands jailed.

During a meeting with a local media delegation in New York, El-Sisi said he would not "reply to those who offend [him]," taking into account his country's interests.

"When I was young and was hit by those older than me, I used to say 'I'll grow bigger and hit you [back]'," the Egyptian president was quoted by local media as saying.

Ties between Ankara and Cairo have soured after last summer's removal of Morsi and the ensuing state crackdown on his Muslim Brotherhood, a group with which Erdogan's AK Party had forged strong relations.

The Turkish leader has emerged as one of the fiercest critics of Morsi's overthrow, repeatedly slamming it as a "coup."

Cairo has also been at loggerheads with Doha, as it has been dismayed by Qatar’s backing of the Brotherhood—assigned by Egyptian authorities a terrorist organisation

But El-Sisi on Thursday alluded to a possible detente between both states.

The official news agency MENA quoted him as saying that efforts are being made by Arab allies to "bring about reconciliation" with the Gulf state.

Following mounting regional pressure to cut off support for the Islamist movement, several Brotherhood leaders who were self-exiled in Doha left the country in what some said was a bid to "spare Qatar embarrassment."

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