Turkey dimming Muslim Brotherhood support as it eyes better ties with Arab states - analyst

It remains unclear how for Ankara will go in dimming its support for Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, as it looks to mend ties with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, wrote analyst Ksenia Stevlova in the Media Line on Sunday.

But despite attempts for rapprochement with the regional rivals, the Brotherhood as well as Turkey’s military presence in Libya and Syria, will prove to be issues that are hard to resolve, Stevlova added.

The government of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is eyeing investment opportunities with influential Arab states, with which it has been at odds with over the Muslim Brotherhood, a pan-Islamist political movement that operates Islamist networks across the Middle East. 

The UAE, its Gulf allies, Saudi Arabia and Egypt view the Brotherhood as a terrorist organisation while under Erdoğan’s rule Turkey has opened its doors to members of the outlawed group following the July 2013 ousting of its leader Mohammed Morsi.

Over the past few years, ‘’Ankara gradually became convinced that this fragmented Muslim Brotherhood opposition-in-exile was “a losing horse that could no longer be used to intimidate the Egyptian president,” according to Haisam Hassanein, a policy analyst and a former Glazer Fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

As part of its new outlook, Ankara has made a decision to no longer allow inflammatory discourse against the Egyptian government, Hassanein said, which could spark thedeparture of some Muslim Brotherhood figures in Turkey to leave for countries such as Qatar, which remain more supportive of the movement.

Turkey has as many as 20,000 members of the group, according to a 2020 report by U.S. think tank the Century Foundation, including dozens of the movement’s most powerful and influential figures. A number of Muslim Brotherhood linked media outlets operate out of Istanbul.

Saudi, Emirati, and Egyptian economies have also taken a hit since the beginning of the pandemic and ties with Turkey could facilitate a speedier recovery, the analyst said.

Last month, Erdoğan said he and UAE National Security Adviser Sheikh Tahnoun bin Zayed Al Nahyan discussed investment in Turkey, noting that if talks proceed well the UAE would make “serious investments” in Turkey.

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