The Two-Way
1:35 pm
Sat November 23, 2013

Egypt, Turkey Expel Each Others Ambassadors, Testing Ties

Originally published on Sat November 23, 2013 4:11 pm

The relationship between Egypt and Turkey took a big hit today, when Egypt announced it was expelling the Turkish ambassador, and Turkey responded in-kind, declaring the Egyptian ambassador "persona non grata."

The AP reports:

"Saturday's decisions, which fall short of closing diplomatic missions in the two countries, are a dramatic reversal of the warming relations between the two countries over the past year.

"Egypt's interim government vehemently has protested remarks by Turkish leaders criticizing the popularly backed military coup that toppled Islamist President Mohammed Morsi. The decision Saturday followed another critical comment by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday."

On Saturday, Erdogan said that he would never "have respect for those who come to power through coups."

The AP adds some more background:

"Since Egypt's 2011 uprising against Morsi's predecessor, autocrat Hosni Mubarak, Turkey sought to strengthen ties with the country's new political order. The Turkish president was the first to visit Egypt after the fall of Mubarak in February 2011. Trade between the two countries increased by about 27 percent in the following year to $3.8 billion in the first nine months of 2012. Turkey also increased its investment in Egypt and currently has some 26 development projects in Egypt.

"Turkey's Islamic-rooted ruling party strongly backed toppled Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi — a leading figure in Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood — as an example for the Arab world of a democratically elected Islamist leader. Turkey criticized his popularly backed July 3 overthrow by Egypt's military, while also criticizing the West for what it deemed as a weak response to the coup.

"Turkey and Egypt previously recalled their ambassadors in August after Turkey condemned the ouster and a subsequent bloody crackdown on pro-Morsi protests. Turkey's ambassador returned weeks later, but Egypt declined to return its envoy to Ankara."

The U.S. for its part has refused to call the ouster of Morsi a coup. In fact, this week Secretary of State John Kerry upped his rhetoric accusing the Muslim brotherhood of stealing the Egyptian revolution.

Kerry said, according to AFP:

"'Those kids in Tahrir Square, they were not motivated by any religion or ideology.

"'They were motivated by what they saw through this interconnected world, and they wanted a piece of the opportunity and a chance to get an education and have a job and have a future, and not have a corrupt government that deprived them of all of that and more," the top U.S. diplomat said.

"'They tweeted their ways and Face-timed their ways and talked to each other, and that's what drove that revolution.

"'And then it got stolen by the one single-most organized entity in the state, which was the Brotherhood.'"

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