Heightened tensions between US allies Israel, Egypt, Turkey


Protesters storm Israeli embassy in Cairo. (Photo: Al Jazeera/YouTube)

Story by Derek Stoffel, PRI's The World. Listen to audio above for full report.

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Turkey’s Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, visited Cairo, Egypt on Monday. Erdogan’s trip couldn’t come at a more tense time.

There were violent demonstrations in Cairo over the weekend. The Israeli embassy was attacked, and most of that country’s diplomatic staff were evacuated.

Erodgan went to show his support for the overthrow of the Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak earlier this year. And to sympathize. Many in Egypt are angry after five of their police officers was killed when Israeli troops went after gunmen who launched an attack last month.

Omar Ashour is a Middle East analyst at the University of Exeter in England. He said Erdogan’s trip is well-timed.

“I think he will get an extremely warm welcome on the unofficial popular level – and from the political parties and political groups,” Ashour said. “Many of the Islamist groups perceive him to be a bit of a model to pursue. Many of the nationalists leftist groups are happy with his position regarding Israel after the Marmara attack.”

That attack last year has led to what some analysts call a new low in Turkish-Israeli relations. Turkey is angry that Israel refused to apologize for the deadly raid on the Mavi Marmara, a Turkish ship that was trying to deliver aid to Gaza.

Israel expressed regret for the loss of life, but officials have said they have nothing to apologize for.

On the weekend, Erdogan called the attack “grounds for war,” but the Turkish leader said he opted instead for a diplomatic solution to the incident. Relations between the two countries recently though are anything but diplomatic. Turkey kicked Israel’s ambassador out of the country last week.

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