In Egypt, Many Leaders Quietly Cheered Turkish Coup Plotters

Egyptians watched raptly over the weekend as military forces moved to unseat a democratically elected Islamist president in Turkey, reminding many of a similar move by the Egyptian military three years ago.

That political intervention in 2013 led by Field Marshal Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, ousted the democratically elected president, Mohamed Morsi, and all but wiped out his Muslim Brotherhood.

Many Egyptians had hoped to see a similar result when Turkish soldiers tried to topple President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, an Islamist ally of Mr. Morsi who has criticized his removal, and the crackdown that followed.

“I will not deny there was a lot of excitement,” said Dalia Youssef, the deputy chairwoman of the foreign affairs committee in Egypt’s Parliament, after images of military vehicles rolling through the streets of Ankara and Istanbul interrupted her vacation.

“Everyone stayed up until three in the morning,” she said, watching the news and trading jokes and internet memes about Mr. Erdogan’s potential fall. “Many public figures,” she added, would be happy to see Mr. Erdogan removed, so that Egypt could have “a better relationship with Turkey.”

Since Mr. Sisi ousted the democratically elected Mr. Morsi and the next year became president himself, Egypt’s relationship with Turkey has been, in Ms. Youssef’s description, “terrible.”

Turkey and Egypt, two majority Muslim nations and the largest countries in the eastern Mediterranean, enjoy centuries-old cultural and religious ties, and common customs from four centuries of shared experience as part of the Ottoman Empire.

The countries had a warm bond during Mr. Morsi’s year in office, and Mr. Erdogan’s Islamist Justice and Development Party has long supported the Muslim Brotherhood. But the relationship between Mr. Sisi’s government and Mr. Erdogan’s has been one of almost open disdain since Mr. Sisi led the military takeover to remove and imprison Mr. Morsi. His fate and the repression of the Muslim Brotherhood, which has been outlawed, are at the center of the dispute.

“If the coup had been successful, I doubt very much that Cairo would have said, ‘oh what a pity,’ ” said H.A. Hellyer, a senior nonresident fellow at the Atlantic Council in Washington. “The relationship is that bad.”

Mr. Erdogan even made a gesture of solidarity with the Muslim Brotherhood on Saturday after he declared the attempted coup quashed: he flashed the four-fingered salute associated with the 2013 massacre of hundreds of Mr. Morsi’s supporters in Cairo.

Mahmoud Yehia, another member of Parliament’s foreign affairs committee, has complained about Mr. Erdogan’s criticism of Mr. Sisi’s government, and his insistence on calling the removal of Mr. Morsi a “coup” instead of a revolution. In Egypt, it is officially known as the June 30 Revolution.

“You can have an opinion but to act on it like this is too much,” Mr. Yehia said of Mr. Erdogan’s “attacks and talk about a coup.”

The distinction between a coup and a revolution is a fine, but important, point that Egyptian officials often emphasize.

Ahmed Moussa, a television host supportive of Mr. Sisi’s government, celebrated the attempt to unseat Mr. Erdogan in Turkey on his show. He even instructed his viewers how to view Friday night’s actions.

“What is happening in Turkey is not a military coup,” Mr. Moussa said. “It is a revolution from inside the Turkish armed forces.”

Some in Egypt see Mr. Erdogan as a nefarious figure; an underhanded Islamist with jihadist sympathies.

Mohamed Amin, a columnist for Al-Masry Al-Youm, a popular newspaper, said on Monday that the Turkish leader, “gave the same stupid speech as Morsi” after the plot against him failed.

“It was all the same talk about elected government and legitimacy,” Mr. Amin wrote.

Other supporters of Egypt’s government who dislike Mr. Erdogan said they hoped the attempt to oust him would open the world’s eyes to what they see as his faults.

Anissa Hassouna, an Egyptian lawmaker, said the attempted coup, though unsuccessful, helped her feel “vindicated” in her dislike for the Turkish president.

“I wish the world would now see Erdogan as we see him,” she said.

Correction: July 18, 2016
An earlier version of this article incorrectly referred to the name by which the 2013 removal of President Mohamed Morsi is known. It is called the June 30 Revolution, not the July 30 Revolution.

Author: Liam Stack


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