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Egypt-Turkey rivalry goes deeper than politics

Cairo is treading cautiously on Ankara’s fence-mending overtures toward Turkey.

After nearly eight years of vitriolic discord and regional bickering, Turkey is on a quest to mend fences with Egypt, hoping that the prospect of mutual geopolitical gains will pave the way for reconciliation and help soften the energy rivalry in the eastern Mediterranean. Cairo appears open to Turkey’s overtures, but true normalization might prove elusive until the leaders of the two countries overcome their personal grudges and engage in direct dialogue. 

On March 12, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has called his Egyptian counterpart a “murderer” and a “tyrant,” said intelligence and diplomatic contacts were under way with Cairo, expressing desire to take them to a higher level. Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, meanwhile, said the contacts were progressing slowly and gradually after years of disconnect and mistrust between the two countries.

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