Egypt’s Sisi: Gulf siege against Qatar should include Turkey

Egypt’s Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi has called on allies in the Gulf to escalate the diplomatic row with Qatar to include Turkey.

According to the news outlet,  Al-Sisi urged Gulf leaders to expand their boycott until Ankara gives up support for Qatar. He is reported to have said that this would maintain the pressure on Doha to respond positively and help bring a speedy end to the regional siege.

The sources said that Al-Sisi raised the matter during a meeting with the King of Bahrain, Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa, last Thursday in Cairo. They added that Al-Sisi pushed for the escalation of the Arab campaign and accused Turkey of funding and hosting groups classified as “terrorist” such as the Muslim Brotherhood or organisations in Syria.

According to the news outlet, Al-Sisi has not received a response to his suggestion. The sources pointed out that the Gulf countries were keen; however, to at least neutralise Turkey from assisting Qatar in the crisis.

After his visit to Saudi Arabia and Egypt, the King of Bahrain sent his Foreign Minister, Khalid Bin Ahmed bin Mohammed Al-Khalifa, to Turkey to meet President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in an attempt to ease the conflict – especially in light of the agreement by Ankara to send Turkish troops to Doha. The suggestion has received no response from the Gulf nations. Egypt’s push to include Turkey in the boycott follows after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan criticized the regime for overthrowing the first democratically-elected president Mohamed Morsi in a military coup.

Turkey is working to resolve the Qatar crisis through diplomacy. Turkish government officials have been pushing for a peaceful solution to the Qatar row. According to journalist Jason Ditz, “Turkey is much larger than Qatar, and more influential. They are also one of the region’s largest exporters of food, and the loss of them as a trading partner would be potentially very problematic for nations like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, with no obvious replacements.”

“Moreover, this would further solidify the ideological divide around which the Qatar split is truly based. Resentment against Qatari media’s support for pro-democracy Islamic movements, particularly opposed by Sisi, who in 2013 came to power in a coup removing an elected Islamist government, is a big part of the anti-Qatar push, but Turkey’s own ruling party is a conservative Islamic party, and has backed the Qataris as a result.”

“Moving against Turkey would be extremely risky in this regard, as while Sisi hopes it would oblige Turkey to abandon its support for Qatar, it would in all likelihood solidify it, and make it increasingly obvious that Qatar is not isolated.”

Egypt blocks Daily Sabah and other Turkey-based websites According to the Egyptian news website Mada Masr, the number of websites blocked in Egypt has now reached 54 following the most recent blocking spree. The list now includes Daily Sabah’s English, Arabic and German web pages as well as Turk Press, Arab Turkey, Akhbar Turkiya and Akhbar al-Alam.

The Cairo-based Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE) confirmed that access to the websites has been blocked but could not determine when the block was implemented.

Three Al Jazeera journalists, including a Canadian and an Australian, were detained between 2013 and 2015, triggering international protests.

Timothy Kaldas, a non-resident fellow at the Washington-based Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy, said the latest crackdown appeared to be aimed at curbing discontent in Egypt and enacted without fear of consequences.

“More and more people are frustrated in Egypt in general. So they want to stop the critical information which could increase the frustration,” he said in a recent interview.

Turkey could be next target after Qatar “I think that one of the reasons is the need to defend common political and economic interests. In recent years, ties between Ankara and Doha have increasingly developed. Moreover, Qatar has repeatedly provided Turkey with political support, including after an attempted military coup in Turkey. In particular, the development of bilateral ties resulted in the establishment of Turkish military base in Qatar,” Turkish political analyst and author Samer Saleha pointed out.

“Ankara could preserve those contacts if it works with Saudi Arabia in a frank and fair manner. I guess that the [Turkish] foreign minister should visit Riyadh as soon as possible. Since the crisis erupted Ankara’s efforts to establish dialogue with Gulf states have been insufficient. They should be intensified,” the analyst said.

Speaking further, the analyst shared thoughts on the possible consequences from the crisis for Ankara.

“In this situation, Turkey believes that it could be the next target [after Qatar]. The Turkish leadership and experts believe that an attack on Turkey will come next. It will be delivered both by Gulf states and the United States. This became clear after [US

President] Donald Trump’s visit to Riyadh. This is why Turkey reacted quickly and in such a manner. It may be part of an American plan in the region,” Saleha said.

According to the analyst, the way for the implementation of this plan was paved by Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia.

“Turkey and Iran are opposing this plan. They want to consider the Qatar crisis from a different angle. In turn, Washington ignores their proposals and wants to impose its own view of the situation. The US wants to gain from this crisis because it serves its national interests,” he said.

Erdogan slams putschists in Egypt

A few days ago, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that “what is happening now in the Gulf is not far from the attempted coup in Turkey as well as the coup against Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi.”

“We know who supported the coup in Turkey and who opposed it, and the putschists in Egypt have nothing to do with democracy, and those who support them should redefine democracy,” Erdogan added.

“The one who carried out the coup against President Mohamed Morsi was his defense minister, and now there are those who support and pamper him,” Erdogan said.