‘Turkey will never rule Arab World’ – Egypt’s FM

A non-Arab state, like Turkey, can’t rule the Arab World, Egypt’s interim foreign minister, Nabil Fahmy, told RT Arabic in an exclusive interview, calling Ankara’s ambitions to restore the Ottoman Empire groundless due to failed relations with neighbors. 

Egypt’s interim government has only nine months ahead of it, but during that time Egypt will review its relations with all the countries on the world map, Fahmy said. 

The minister stressed that all the attempts by the US and the EU to bring the army-backed government and the pro-Morsi Muslim Brotherhood movement to the negotiations table have failed, because the sides weren’t ready to reach an agreement and lacked mutual trust. 

“First of all, it refers to the political Islam movements. The Muslim Brotherhood wanted a return to the past, but it’s impossible and unacceptable for the majority of the Egyptian people,” he said. 

“It’s not a problem between the Muslim Brotherhood and the government or the leadership of Egypt. It’s a problem between the Muslim Brotherhood and the majority of the Egyptian people.” 

The FM stressed that all the attempts of “internationalization” of the Egyptian problem won’t be tolerated and that the crisis in the country will be settled “the Egyptian way.” 

Fahmy has slammed Egypt’s foreign policy under Morsi, saying it was too ideological and lacked sense of direction, “hopping between the Eastern and pro-Western course.” 

The minister said that it’s going to change under him. He has ordered a revision of Egypt’s relations with all the states on the world map “without exception,” including the US, which had significant influence on the country’s previous government. 

“Our decisions will be based on evaluation of how our relations get in line with our [Egypt’s] interests,” he explained. Despite Qatar, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Kuwait showing their support for the Muslim Brotherhood, it’s necessary for Egypt to maintain close and effective dialogue with its Arab neighbors, Fahmy stressed. “Our relations with Arab states are relations with brotherly states. 

Therefore, they have a special nature and are unlike any traditional relationship between two different countries,” he said. 

“Our mutual understanding in relations with brotherly states – when it’s present – reaches the greatest heights. When there are differences between us, no matter how tense they are, in the end we always find a solution in the frame of our special relations.” 

According to the FM, all former statements now belong in the past and in building its new foreign policy Cairo won’t go back to the status quo before June 30, when the first anti-Morsi protests began across the country. 

But Fahmy criticized Turkey and the Islamist government of prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan for their backing of the Muslin Brotherhood rule in Egypt. Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) “is afraid that if the ideas of political Islam will fail in the region, it’ll has [have] a negative impact on its own position within Turkey,” he explained. 

The minister also believes that the Turkish plan to recreate the Ottoman Empire of 1299-1923 and take the leading position in the Arab World has no grounds in it. “A non-Arab state can’t head the Arab Islamic world,” Fahmy said, adding that Turkish foreign policy, which was previously highly appreciated, is now “suffering a defeat”.

“It’s clear that Turkey currently has bad relations with all of its neighboring countries,” he stressed. "Thus, Turkey can’t become the head of the Islamic World at the present stage because of its failed foreign policy and lack of capacity to play a leading role in the region.” 

The cooling of relations between the two countries recently led to cancellation of joint military drills, but Fahmy noted that “in the long term, neither Egypt nor Turkey are interested in their relationship being spoiled.” 

There should also be “no hostility” in relations between Cairo and Hamas, although the Palestinian Sunni Islamic movement, which controls the Gaza strip, stands on basically the same grounds as the Muslim Brotherhood, the FM stressed. 

He called Hamas “a part of the solution of the Palestinian problem,” but stressed that Egypt respects its peace treaty with Israel, expressing hope that the 1979 document would become “a starting point for a comprehensive peace between the Arab countries and Israel.” 

As for the situation in Syria where the civil war between the government and western-backed Islamist rebels has been raging since March 2011, Fahmy expressed his full backing for the Geneva-2 peace talks. “It must be a serious conference with the participation of all stakeholders,” he said. 

“Because the situation in Syria contains the dangerous potential of ‘reshaping’ the whole of the Middle East to such an extent that we haven’t seen since World War I.” 

Fahmy also said he has frequent and “objective” conversations with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, promising that bilateral visits which will clarify the situation between Moscow and Cairo are “just a matter of time”. 

Nabil Fahmy was sworn in as Egypt’s foreign minister in the interim government led by PM Hazem Al Beblawi, on July 16. The 62-year-old is a career diplomat, who from 1999 to 2008 was his country’s ambassador to the US.

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