More than two years ago, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan began pursuing a different policy towards the Brotherhood, especially the Egyptian Brotherhood elements residing on Turkish soil. Because of his desire to restore relations with Egypt and prove goodwill, the Turkish authorities tended during the past months to force media channels to change the way they deal with Egypt and forcing its Egyptian media workers to distance themselves from the “language of incitement” against the Egyptian state. After that, it closed these media mouthpieces and expelled their members, which prompted them to go abroad to complete their plans against Egypt. Ankara also recently refused to grant nationality to some Brotherhood fugitives residing on its territory.
Refusing to grant citizenship
This comes in the context of Wagdy Ghoneim, a Muslim Brotherhood fugitive who fled abroad since 2013, who published a video on his official YouTube channel on May 31 announcing that the Turkish authorities refused for the fourth time to grant him citizenship, making him currently look for another residence, especially since he is an outcast in Egypt and a death sentence was issued against him in the Wagdy Ghoneim cell case in 2017. Therefore, Egypt and both the UAE and Saudi Arabia placed him on their terrorist lists, and he is also prohibited from entering the United States for inciting acts of violence and extremism.
It should be noted that Turkey’s refusal to grant citizenship to Ghoneim comes in conjunction with a number of developments, most notably Erdogan’s victory in late May with a new presidential term, which means that the Turkish president wants to fully restore relations with Egypt after tensions had been witnessed since 2013 due to Ankara’s support for the Brotherhood. Accordingly, Erdogan seems to be working to complete the rest of the procedures that will enable him to restore relations with Cairo by rejecting the Brotherhood fugitives residing on Turkish soil, and it seems that the Ghoneim incident will not be the first, and it may be followed during the coming period by more strikes against the Brotherhood members residing there.
In addition, the refusal to grant Turkish citizenship to Ghoneim, and his announcement of a search for shelter, indicates that Ankara will expel him within the next few days. Therefore, this video was anticipated, which coincides with the approaching tenth anniversary of the June 30, 2013 revolution that overthrew the Brotherhood’s rule and eliminated the terrorist group’s plan to control Egypt.
Regarding the significance of the change in the Turkish position, the future of the Brotherhood elements and their media platforms in Turkey, and the way the Turkish authorities deal with the rest of the elements residing on its soil, Hesham El-Naggar, a researcher specializing in the affairs of Islamist movements, said that this position is related to the changes in Turkish foreign policy towards rapprochement with Egypt and the normalization of Arab-Turkish relations. One of the obvious requirements of this is not to create a safe haven for the Brotherhood leaders, especially those controversial leaders who incite violence, takfirism, and terrorism, such as Wagdy Ghoneim, who was famous for issuing fatwas declaring the Egyptian army, state institutions, and Egypt’s political and military leaders apostates.
Naggar pointed out in a special statement to the Reference that this decision is related to the reaction of the Turkish authorities to the Brotherhood’s cooperation and dealings with Turkish opposition parties such as the IYI Party. The Turkish president did not forget the meeting between the Brotherhood and the head of the IYI party in Turkey, and he no longer needs the Brotherhood since it is difficult for him to run again, and it is likely that this will be his last term. Therefore, he no longer needs to flirt with the Brotherhood in order for them to stand with him in his electoral campaigns.
Naggar added that the path of rapprochement requires the Turkish president to take steps to deduct the influence and presence of the Brotherhood inside Turkey, and the authorities may keep the citizenship granted to some in the event that they adhere to the Turkish standards and conditions regarding not carrying out any activity that is not consistent with the Turkish-Arab reconciliation path and its requirements.