Turkey is Trying to Make New Friends

Turkey is Trying to Make New Friends

After years of rocky relations with many nations in the region, Turkey begins widespread efforts to repair relationships, and establish diplomacy. (Photo from REUTERS/Khalil Ashawi)

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Turkey is a nation with no shortage of controversy and ill-relations with other nations in the Middle-East. But call them sentimental, as recently they have been attempting to repair relations with not only Egypt, but Syria as well. One with more success than the other.

Turkey’s efforts to repair relations with Syria, as mediated by Russia, have been received well by some, and not so much by others. Reportedly, one such person is Assad himself. Sources within Syria’s government have reported that it was Assad that refused to meet with Erdogan, despite Russian attempts to make one such meeting occur. Erdogan’s attempts at re-establishing relations with Syria’s government come as Turkey is likely to renew an offensive amidst widespread strikes of targets in Northern Syria.


A fire burns in Northern Syria as a result of Turkish strikes. (Photo from Syrian State Television via AFP)

Mended relations with Syria would be a massive win for Erdogan, so it is likely to be a big priority for him as next year’s elections draw ever nearer. The 3.6 million Syrian refugees that currently reside in Turkey are growing increasingly unwelcome to the populace as Turkey undergoes an economic crisis that sees the common man unable to afford certain amenities. Erdogan’s promise to return 1 million of the refugees to Northern Syria requires such relations to be established.


Erdogan and Assad meeting in 2008, years before the civil war began. (Photo from SANA/AFP)

« There can be no resentment in politics. » -Erdogan

However, Assad has brought a major point to the negotiating table, which could signal reasoning behind their refusal. Syria wants Turkey to withdraw their forces from Syria’s borders, where the Turkish army has been establishing itself for years. In Turkish occupied territory the Lira is the primary currency, and children are taught the Turkish language as a second language in schools

Turkey has had ill relations with Syria since not long after the Syrian Civil War began, and has not only funded rebel groups within the nation but also said Assad must go if peace is to be achieved in Syria.

Syrian-Turkish relations don’t appear to be going as planned for Turkey, but Egypt spells some hope for Turkish efforts. When the Qatar 2022 World Cup was kicking off, at the sidelines were Erdogan and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, somebody Erdogan previously said he would refuse to meet.


Pictured shaking hands, meetings between the two nations intelligence officials promptly followed the President’s meeting. (Picture from Murat Cetinmuhurdar/PPO/Handout via REUTERS)


« We had narrowly focused talks with Mr. Sisi there and said now let’s have ministers coming and going at a low level. After that, let’s broaden and widen these talks. » -Erdogan in regards to his conversation with al-Sisi

The entire contents of the meetings are unclear, but Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that Turkey hopes to not only re-establish official ties, but also re-appoint ambassadors within a few months.

Turkey and Egypt’s relations have been strained since 2013, when former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi was ousted in a coup and replaced by al-Sisi. Morsi has affiliations with the Muslim Brotherhood, a group which Egypt has declared a terrorist organization. Morsi was supported by Turkey and more specifically, Erdogan. Turkey also allegedly, but unofficially, supports the Muslim Brotherhood.

Sébastien Gray
Sébastien Gray
Sébastien Gray is a published journalist and historicist with over 5 years experience in writing. His primary focus is on East and West African affairs.
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