Diplomatic ties with Turkey could be restored this year if outstanding issues are overcome, Egypt’s prime minister said Thursday, sounding a cautiously optimistic tone on the back of recent efforts by the regional rivals to mend fences.
Mostafa Madbouly, speaking in an interview with Bloomberg, said a key issue for Egypt remains Turkey’s involvement in Libya -- a nation whose nearly decade-long conflict morphed into a proxy battle between regional rivals. Much of the conflict waned with the formation of a unity government that ended dueling administrations in Libya’s east and west.
No other countries should be physically interfering in Libya, Madbouly said, or try to influence decision-making in the OPEC state. “We would like to leave Libyans to decide their future.”
Commenting on the Egyptian-Turkish dialogue, Madbouly said that “there’s been a lot of movement that has taken place in the last few months, but there also remain some outstanding issues.”
The recent push by Turkey and Egypt to sooth tensions is part of a broader realignment taking place in the region since the November election of US President Joe Biden. Turkey has also reached out to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, both of which share Egypt’s distaste for the groups Turkey has backed in the region.
Ties with Egypt soured after a military-backed popular uprising pushed Muslim Brotherhood-backed President Mohamed Mursi from office in 2013. The rifts deepened further with Turkey’s support for Libya’s internationally recognized government in the west, whose rival was the eastern strongman Khalifa Haftar supported by Egypt and Russia.
Efforts to further unify Libya are focused on the country holding elections on Dec. 24. But key issues remain, including the presence of foreign mercenaries and how to disarm militias.
Madbouly said Egypt is working to help Libyans reach their goal of deciding their own future.
Madbouly also said Egypt is in “very serious negotiations” with European and Western companies to produce “huge amounts of coronavirus vaccine for export to the region and Africa.”
Egypt hopes to reach an agreement with one of the companies before the end of the year.