Turkish Ambassador kicked out of Egypt for…

By Ben Barrack

It is noteworthy when one country pulls its ambassador out of another country for safety reasons. It’s far more significant when a host country boots another country’s ambassador out for meddling in the affairs of said host country. In this particular case, Egypt has kicked Turkish Ambassador Huseyin Avni Botsali back to Ankara and has cited such meddling as the reason.

Turkish Ambassador Botali: Given the boot by Egypt.

Turkish Ambassador Botali: Given the boot by Egypt.

Via ABC News / AP:

Egypt downgraded diplomatic relations with Turkey Saturday and ordered its ambassador expelled from Cairo, a sharp escalation in tensions between the two countries that have mounted since the Egyptian military’s ouster of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi this summer.

Egypt’s Foreign Ministry said the Turkish envoy has been considered persona non grata and is being asked to leave the country because of what it described as Ankara’s continued “interference” in Egyptian affairs. It said it will scale back its diplomatic relations with Turkey to the level of charge d’affaires. {emphasis mine}

That “interference” charge is quite interesting when one considers the recent history between Egypt and Turkey since Mursi’s removal. A few weeks after Mursi was removed on July 3rd, Turkish newspaper Hurriyet reported an Al-Watan’s report that Botsali was being investigated by Egypt’s Attorney General Hisham Barakat for funneling Muslim Brotherhood money and assets out of Egypt:

Al-Watan said Barakat launched the probe after Ahmad Yahya, a former Muslim Brotherhood member who split from the movement and is now coordinating the Brotherhood Without Violence movement in Egypt, accused Botsali of acting as a courier for senior brotherhood members and of transporting their money outside the country by taking advantage of his diplomatic immunity. {emphasis mine}

While the Hurriyet report quotes Turkish officials’ emphatic denial of that claim, Egypt’s actions today seem to indicate their belief that the charges have merit.

Barakat: Did his investigation of Turkish Ambassador yield results?

Barakat: Did his investigation of Turkish Ambassador yield results?

**Note: Hisham Barakat is the same Attorney General who is looking into charges that Malik Obama is involved in handling international Muslim Brotherhood finances as well.

An interesting contrast of note are the styles of Turkish President Abdullah Gul and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan respectively. The former exercises more political savvy while the latter’s true colors always manage to come through, as they did with the now infamous poem he recited in 1997 that helped to land him in jail. In fact, Erdogan’s words about his thoughts on the trial of ousted President Mohammed Mursi, two days before the expulsion of Botsali, may have either contributed to or foreshadowed Egypt’s decision to do so.

Here is Gul’s reaction to the news from Egypt:

In reaction to the decision, Turkish President Abdullah Gul told reporters that he hoped our relations “will be restored soon.”

Close to the vest, right?

Now check out Erdogan’s words just before Botsali was given the boot:

“I applaud Mr. Morsi’s stance in front of the judiciary. I have no respect for those who are trying him,” Erdogan said Thursday.

Two days later, Botsali was sent packing. This news doesn’t just speak to Egypt’s willingness to do so but also its resolve relative to the Muslim Brotherhood. In kicking Botsali out, the new government is prioritizing dealing with the Brotherhood over international relations with arguably the most powerful country in the Middle East. It also seems to indicate that Egypt may be taking the charges levied against Botsali this past July very seriously as well.

Erdogan’s repeatedly expressed affinity for the Brotherhood’s success in Egypt is also quite revealing. He wears that affinity on his sleeve, one time even breaking down in tears on television not long after Mursi’s ouster.

This sentiment is echoed in the ABC / AP report itself:

Turkey’s Islamic-rooted ruling party had strongly backed Morsi — a leading figure in Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood — as an example for the Arab world of a democratically elected Islamist leader. It has criticized his July 3 overthrow by Egypt’s military, while also criticizing the West for what it has deemed a weak response to a military coup. {emphasis mine}

This just underscores how much of a blow Mursi’s removal was to the Turks.

Regular readers to our site are quite familiar with our work on Egypt – under Mursi – being involved in the Benghazi attacks on 9/11/12. Evidence suggests that Mursi himself may have been directly involved. The Muslim Brotherhood most assuredly was to some degree, as evidenced, in part, by the release of the founder of a terror network from an Egyptian jail during the ‘Arab Spring’ indicates. That terror network has been identified by the United Nations as being involved in Benghazi.

The degree to which Turkey supported Egypt under Mursi may just be coming to light if its ambassador is being jettisoned from Egypt for “interference” in Egyptian affairs.

Perhaps this new development should prompt a re-examination of the meeting between Ambassador Christopher Stevens and Turkish Consul General in Benghazi Ali Sait Akin that ended one hour prior to the Benghazi compound coming under assault. Here is an excerpt from a conference call with State Department officials on October 9, 2012:

About 7:30 in the evening, he has his last meeting. It is with a Turkish diplomat. And at – when the meeting is over, at 8:30 – he has all these meetings, by the way, in what I call Building C – when the meeting is over, he escorts the Turkish diplomat to the main gate. There is an agent there with them. They say goodbye. They’re out in a street in front of the compound. Everything is calm at 8:30 p.m. There’s nothing unusual. There has been nothing unusual during the day at all outside. {emphasis mine}

In December of last year, Diana West had an email exchange with that Ali Sait Akin, whose timeline didn’t match the State Department’s timeline. Here is what Akin relayed to West:

I arrive at the US Consulate at 18.30 (6:30pm) and our meeting ended at 19.30 (7:30pm). At 19.45 (7:45pm) we left the premises completely.

Both of those accounts can’t be right.

Ali Sait Akin: Turkish Consul General who met with Christopher Stevens on 9/11/12

Ali Sait Akin: Turkish Consul General who met with Christopher Stevens on 9/11/12

As for the purpose of the meeting between Stevens and Akin, there’s been much speculation about that. One of the more prominent theories has to do with weapons transfers out Libya – through the CIA Annex – to Turkey, and then on to Syria. To a degree, this is not mere speculation. Consider a report by Fox News’ Catherine Herridge in October of last year. The cargo reportedly consisted of anti-aircraft missiles:

Although what was discussed at the meeting is not public, a source told Fox News that Stevens was in Benghazi to negotiate a weapons transfer, an effort to get SA-7 missiles out of the hands of Libya-based extremists. And although the negotiation said to have taken place may have had nothing to do with the attack on the consulate later that night or the Libyan mystery ship, it could explain why Stevens was traveling in such a volatile region on the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

When asked to comment, a State Department spokeswoman dismissed the idea, saying Stevens was there for diplomatic meetings, and to attend the opening of a cultural center. {emphasis mine}

A cultural center?! Really?! We now know that Stevens met with the House Intelligence Committee before his death. We also know that he made several pleas for additional security in Libya. We also know – and the State Department’s “Independent” Accountability Review Board (ARB) confirmed – that the facility was woefully ill-equipped to handle an attack. Yet, we’re to believe that Stevens traveled to Benghazi of his own accord (per the ARB) at the worst possible time (September 11th) to open a cultural center?!

Are we also to believe that’s why he met with Akin?

We would like to make it clear that we are not conflating two or more issues. It is important, however, to put the expulsion of Botsali into its proper context. If, as the al-Watan report suggests, the Turkish Ambassador was using his position to smuggle frozen Muslim Brotherhood assets out of Egypt, this suggests a very high level of collaboration between Turkey and Mursi existed before the latter was removed.

The degree to which Mursi may have been involved in the Benghazi attacks may also implicate Turkey to some degree. With the expulsion of Botsali, the connection between Turkey, Egypt (under Mursi), the Muslim Brotherhood, and the Benghazi attacks may have just gotten a bit closer.

Nonetheless, Egypt’s expulsion of Botsali does a lot of talking by itself.


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