The Middle East is a particularly volatile region of the world. Nations allies and enemies sit right next door to them, and the constant wars and attacks change the political landscape regularly. Despite all this, efforts to restore relations and bring peace are being made. On February 27th, Egypt’s Foreign Minister, Sameh Shoukry, paid a visit to both Syria and Turkey, meeting personally with Syrian President Assad in Damascus, and Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu. The visit marks the first such from a high ranking Egyptian official in a decade.
“The goal of the visit is primarily humanitarian, and to pass on our solidarity – from the leadership, the government and the people of Egypt to the people of Syria” – Foreign Minister Shoukry
Syria has suffered from a severe lack of allies in the region since the breakout of the Syrian Civil War. They were suspended from the Arab League, and many nations in the Middle East supported rebel groups in Syria. In recent years, largely due to the gains Assad’s government has made in the war, relations have began to warm. Isolating Syria simply was not working. And now with the earthquake in early February, support, though limited, has begun to flow into Syria. Egypt itself donated 1,500 tonnes of humanitarian aid to Syria. During the visit, Shoukry said it is in their interest that relations return to normal. After the earthquake, Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi spoke with Assad over the phone for the very first time, despite al-Sisi having been President since 2014.
After his visit with Assad, Shoukry continued on to the Turkish city of Mersin, an area hit by the earthquake. His arrival coincided with that of an Egyptian aid ship.
“What is important for us is to bring the relationships back to the old level and to take them very far in the interests of both countries in accordance with their common interest” – Foreign Minister Shoukry
The Foreign Ministers visit to Turkey is apart of a greater effort from both sides to warm relations between the two. They soured in 2013 after Egypt had a coup which removed their leader that Turkeys President Erdogan was friendly to. For quite some time, Erdogan stated he would refuse to meet with al-Sisi, however on the sidelines of the 2022 Qatar World Cup, the two met, shook hands, and held discussions (I wrote an article in December on Turkish efforts to restore relations with both Syria and Egypt which can be viewed here: https://theatlasnews.co/conflict/2022/12/07/turkey-is-trying-to-make-new-friends/ ).
Turkish Foreign Minister Cavusoglu said that another meeting soon between al-Sisi and Erdogan was likely.
“During our talks today, we exchanged views on mutual visits in the upcoming period. Our deputy foreign ministers met twice before, and it would be beneficial for them to meet again. After our talks, our presidents can meet either in Turkey or Egypt”. -Foreign Minister Cavusoglu.
Back in November Cavusoglu said it was their hope to reappoint an ambassador “in the coming months”. No timeline has yet been given for when that may come.