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Yasin Aktay Between Hurting Turkey and Protecting the Muslim Brotherhood

An observer of the reconciliation process that has been taking place for a few months between Egypt and Turkey, will be surprised by two things. The first, positive, is about the sharp shift in the attitudes of the Turkish political leadership towards the Muslim Brotherhood, which reflects a sincere intention to establish healthy relations with Egypt. The second, negative, is about the persistent unilateral moves of Dr. Yasin Aktay, one of President Erdogan’s advisors, with the purpose to destroy every effort being made in the direction of rapprochement between Turkey and Egypt.

The reconciliation talks between Egypt and Turkey upgraded to the diplomatic track, in March. Since then, President Erdogan and senior government officials have spared no opportunity without stressing the importance of restoring relations with Egypt and Turkey's sincere intentions to fix the rift that broke between the two countries, seven years ago, because of Turkey’s embrace to the Muslim Brotherhood’s elements who fled Egypt after June 2013 revolution.

The latest of the positive statements by Turkish officials about Egypt, was made earlier this week, on June 25th, by Ambassador Tanju Bilgiç, the spokesperson of the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. "The Turkish-Egyptian relations are very important for the stability and prosperity of the region. Egypt is Turkey's largest trading partner in Africa. We attach importance to our historical and cultural relations and communications between our peoples,” said Bilgiç in a press conference. Two days before that, the Turkish state ordered the elements of the Muslim Brotherhood, and other Egyptians working with them, who are living in Turkey, to immediately terminate all their media activities targeting the Egyptian state, including their personal activities on social media platforms. Three months ago, Turkey closed their television stations broadcast from Istanbul.

From time to time, some so-called writers in Egyptian and Turkish media, argue that the issue of the Muslim Brotherhood is not important for the success of the Egypt-Turkey talks. They claim that other regional issues, like the situation in Libya for example, is what the two countries need to focus on. Such arguments are not only fake news, but also do not make any sense. The Muslim Brotherhood issue is directly linked to Egypt’s and Turkey’s national security, and thus it will remain the utmost priority on the agenda of the reconciliation talks.

There is not a single Egyptian official, senior or minor, who has ever made a statement saying that the development of relations between Egypt and Turkey is conditioned by or tied to what is happening in Libya. All statements published in this regard are linked to unnamed resources, which tells the smart reader that they are false. The Egyptian state has a very clear and widely declared position on Libya. Egypt, like other many countries in the international community, calls for the removal of foreign troops and mercenaries from Libya. However, the Egyptian officials fully understand that Libya is a very complex issue and the first and last controller of it is the Libyan people and their elected Government of National Unity. Therefore, they are not conditioning the relationship between Egypt and Turkey to something they cannot control, like the Libya issue.

One of the biggest promoters of this false argument is Dr. Yasin Aktay, one of the most famous advisors to the Turkish president. He speaks Arabic fluently and had previously visited Egypt several times during and immediately after the 2011 revolution. For those who do not know, Aktay is the architect of the relationship between the Turkish President and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, especially at the stage of their accession to power in 2012. He is also one of the most important catalysts for the deterioration of relations between Egypt and Turkey after 2013. He facilitated the entry of the Muslim Brotherhood elements fleeing from Egypt to Turkey, and he has been taking care of them since then. Over the past seven years and up till this moment, he has been supervising and directing the Muslim Brotherhood activities, inside Turkey, especially their media activities targeting the Egyptian state.

Relentlessly, since 2013, Yassin Aktay has been writing articles that insult the Egyptian state and spread lies about the Egyptian President. Even after the recent positive developments in Egyptian-Turkish talks, Aktay's attacks on Egypt has not stopped. Rather, they have been intensified, as if he is deliberately trying to destroy any hope for improving relations between the two countries. Unfortunately, both officials and the public audience in Egypt take Aktay as a credible mouthpiece of the Turkish President. He is not just an ordinary writer expressing his own personal views.

Does the Turkish state realize how Aktay misrepresents it in the eyes of the Egyptian public? Does President Erdogan, Foreign Minister Cavusoglu and Defense Minister Hulusi Akar know that Aktay puts them in embarrassing situations every time they speak positively about Egypt? Perhaps not, because most of his tendentious writings on this particular issue are made in Arabic.

I, like many other Egyptians, cannot understand how a presidential advisor like Aktay can adopt a position different from that of his president and that of his country. Why does Aktay deliberately work to destroy the reconciliation efforts between his country and Egypt, despite the fact that they serve Turkey’s present and future interests. Could it be possible that Aktay is stepping over Turkey to protect the Muslim Brotherhood? Should we believe that his loyalty to the Muslim Brotherhood has become bigger than his loyalty to his own nation?

Aktay's unilateral moves to demolish the Egyptian-Turkish reconciliation efforts are very dangerous and require a decisive confrontation by the Turkish state. Until this is done, Egyptian officials and media should ignore his destructive statements and writings. They are only serving the Muslim Brotherhood, neither Turkey nor Egypt.