CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt summoned the Turkish charge d’affaires on Saturday for the second time in a month to complain about comments by Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan deemed insulting to the leadership in Cairo, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry said.
In an interview with broadcaster CNN, Erdogan repeated the phrase that caused offense last time, calling Egypt’s president, former army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, a “tyrant”. He also accused Egypt of not being “sincere” over the Gaza crisis.
“The Arab republic of Egypt expresses its deep rejection of the latest comments made by the Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan,” the foreign ministry said.
It said Erdogan’s comments included “insults to the president and an issuing of general verdicts that lacked evidence, not objective but based on personal considerations.”
Relations between Egypt and Turkey have soured since the Egyptian army last year ousted the governing Muslim Brotherhood, which Erdogan supports. Last year, Egypt expelled the Turkish ambassador, accusing him of undermining the country. Ankara responded in kind.
When asked if he still stands by his previous comment that Sisi was an “illegitimate tyrant”, Erdogan said: “Well, he is right now a tyrant, I don’t have any doubts about that,” according to a transcript published on CNN’s website.
As head of the army, Sisi orchestrated the ouster of elected Islamist President Mohamed Mursi, a senior member of the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood in reaction to protests against him.
He resigned from the army to run for election, which he won in a landslide. The Brotherhood was, by then, a banned group. Cairo has cracked down hard on Islamists, jailing thousands and killing hundreds of street protesters.
On the Palestinian crisis, Erdogan said Egypt “at this moment does not have a sincere approach to the Palestine issue.”
Erdogan is a vocal supporter of the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, which Egypt sees as a security threat because it is an offshoot of the Brotherhood.
Egypt had proposed a truce initiative to end the Palestinian-Israeli fighting that failed, mainly because it was rejected by Hamas, which rules the Gaza strip that borders Egypt.
Foreign ministers from the United States, Europe and the Middle East including Turkey but not Egypt met in Paris on Saturday and called for an extension of a 12-hour ceasefire.
Reporting by Yasmine Saleh; Editing by Robin Pomeroy