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‘Turkish envoy to Egypt expelled for conspiring against country’

Ambassador harbored Muslim Brotherhood operatives inside Cairo embassy buildings for months, Egyptian daily reports

Elhanan Miller is the former Arab affairs reporter for The Times of Israel

In this Sunday, Sept. 30, 2012 file photo provided by Turkish Prime Minister's Press Service, Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, right, and then-Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi salute the members of Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party in Ankara, Turkey (photo credit: AP/Kayhan Ozer)
In this Sunday, Sept. 30, 2012 file photo provided by Turkish Prime Minister's Press Service, Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, right, and then-Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi salute the members of Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party in Ankara, Turkey (photo credit: AP/Kayhan Ozer)

Egypt’s decision to expel the Turkish ambassador in Cairo followed attempts by the ambassador to harm Egyptian national security by conspiring with the Muslim Brotherhood, an Egyptian daily reported on Monday.

According to independent paper Al-Youm Al-Sabi’, Egyptian intelligence agents monitoring the Turkish embassy and the home of Ambassador Huseyin Avni Botsali over recent weeks found that many Muslim Brotherhood officials frequented the buildings to discuss “sowing strife in Egypt and planning violent acts.”

Egypt expelled Bostali on Saturday, downgrading its diplomatic ties with Turkey to the level of charge d’affaires. The two countries have been at odds since the ouster of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood president, Mohammed Morsi, on July 3, a move that Turkey — led by the pro-Brotherhood Justice and Development party — vociferously opposed.

The immediate reason for Bostali’s expulsion on Saturday was unclear, with Egypt’s Foreign Ministry declaring only that the ambassador was considered a persona non grata due to Turkey’s continued “interference” in Egyptian affairs. Egypt had recalled its ambassador from Ankara in August, refusing to overturn the move even after Turkey returned its own ambassador to Cairo just weeks after he was recalled in August.

The Turkish ambassador was following “clear instructions” from his country to support the Muslim Brotherhood, banned in late September, “high ranking government sources” told Al-Youm A-Sabi’. He even reportedly hid Brotherhood members inside embassy buildings in Cairo for over two months, removing them only after he sensed they were being observed by Egyptian intelligence.

The report further said that the decision to deport the ambassador was taken after it was found that the embassy “directly and indirectly supported violence in Egypt” by bankrolling extremist groups affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood throughout the country. Turkey even funneled weapons into Sinai through the Gaza Strip and oversaw training camps for Brotherhood militants in the city of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip.

Turkey’s Foreign Ministry issued a backhanded critique of the military-backed Egyptian regime Sunday, saying it hoped that ties between the countries normalize “after Egypt regains stability and democracy.”

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, for his part, has never minced words in his criticism of the Egyptian government. Following ousted president Morsi’s trial hearing November 4, the outspoken Turkish leader said he “applauded Morsi’s conduct in court.”

“I respect him, but I have no respect for those who put him on trial,” he stated on November 21.

Three days later, following Egypt’s decision to expel his ambassador to Cairo, Erdogan’s position remained unapologetic.

“We never respected coup plotters, and we never will,” the Turkish prime minister was quoted as saying by Turkey’s daily Hurriyet, referring to the current leaders of Egypt. “It is our duty to enhance freedoms, to raise the standards of democracy.

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