Davutoglu 311 R.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Osman Orsal)
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said that Ankara is seeking a partnership between Turkey and Egypt that will create a new axis of power in the Middle East at a time when US influence in the region is waning.
“This will not be an axis against any other country — not Israel, not Iran, not any other country, but this will be an axis of democracy, real democracy,” Davutoglu said in an interview published in Monday's New York Times. “That will be an axis of democracy of the two biggest nations in our region, from the north to the south, from the Black Sea down to the Nile Valley in Sudan,” he added.
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Davutoglu predicted increased economic cooperation between the two countries, saying Ankara's $1.5 billion investment in Egypt would rise to $5 billion within two years, and total trade would grow from its current $3.5 billion to $5 billion.
“For the regional balance of power, we want to have a strong, very
strong Egypt,” Davutoglu stated. "Some people may think Egypt and Turkey
are competing. No. This is our strategic decision. We want a strong
The plan for increased investment and business between the two countries
was echoed by Egyptian Prime Minister Essam Sharaf last week during a
visit to Cairo by his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Erdogan received a hero's welcome
upon his arrival in Egypt, his first stop on a regional tour that also
took him to Tunisia and Libya. Erdogan’s confrontational policy with
Israel- topped off with remarks made on the eve of his visit that
Israel’s raid on the Mavi Marmara
last year was a casus belli
– won him fans in the Arab Street. The crowds greeting him waved the
flags of Egypt, Libya and Turkey. Some chanted, “Egypt,Turkey - one
fist,” while others raised large portraits of the leader captioned
"Turkey-Egypt - hand in hand to the future.”
But, analysts say
regional ambitions can only come at the cost of Egypt’s standing as the
Arab world’s leading power. Faced with a slumping economy and an
uncertain political future, Cairo may be in a weak position to compete
with Ankara, but it is likely to resist becoming the junior member of a
“This isn’t going to be an easy relationship to manage. These countries
have been competitors in the game of regional influence, with Egypt
wanting to play a lead role in the Arab world and Turkey trying to
increase its influence,” Sinan Ulgen, director of Turkey’s Centre for
Economic and Foreign Policy Studies (Edam) and a visiting scholar at the
Carnegie Institution, told The Media Line.David Rosenberg contributed to this report