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Egyptian TV channel pulls out of Turkey, signalling end of base for Egypt opposition

A woman waves an Egyptian flag in front of the Egyptian consulate in Istanbul on march 2, 2019 during a demonstration against death penalties in Egypt after the recent execution of nine men. [OZAN KOSE/AFP via Getty Images]
A woman waves an Egyptian flag in front of the Egyptian consulate in Istanbul on 2 March 2019 [OZAN KOSE/AFP via Getty Images]

An Egyptian opposition television channel has announced that it is pulling out from its offices in Turkey, as Ankara and Cairo continue to move towards re-establishing full diplomatic ties.

In a statement released by the channel Mekameleen yesterday, it announced that it had decided to leave its base in Turkey and transmit its broadcast from other countries "Due to circumstances that are not hidden from anyone, and out of anxiousness to maintain the channel's media mission of conveying the whole truth".

Although it did not reveal details of the circumstances it mentioned, it was referring to the normalisation and restoration of full diplomatic ties between the Turkish and Egyptian governments over the past year.

Those political currents are detrimental to opposition media outlets in Turkey such as Mekameleen, some of which have ties to Egypt's outlawed Muslim Brotherhood movement and many of which were launched following the 2013 military coup in Egypt which ousted the country's first democratically-elected President Mohammed Morsi and put current president Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi in power.

Following that coup and the Egyptian military's brutal crackdown and massacre of over 1,000 protestors, Turkey condemned the events and refused to recognise Sisi's rule, setting into motion nine years of tensions and the deterioration in diplomatic ties. The two countries also competed in a regional rivalry, supporting opposing sides in Libya and Syria.

READ: There are limits to the rapprochement between Turkey and Egypt

Over the past year, however, Ankara and Cairo's efforts towards reconciliation accelerated, with reports emerging early this month that Turkey will return and appoint a new ambassador to Egypt. Other conciliatory steps that had already been taken include the Turkish government lifting a veto against Egypt's partnership activities with the NATO alliance and the two countries holding of two rounds of talks last year.

A major step that the Turkish government also took last year was to request Egyptian opposition channels in the country to tone down and end their criticism of the Sisi government in order to aid the reconciliation process. Since then, conditions have been made ever more difficult for those outlets to convey their views and grievances regarding Sisi's rule.

In its statement, Mekameleen insisted that it will continue its mission "from different world capitals in the coming days", but did not name any specific locations. There are reports, however, that a number of Egyptian opposition journalists who formerly worked from Turkey have now relocated to London, where they are running their own social media platforms and channels.

Despite its exit from Turkey, the channel offered its "profound thanks to Turkey, the leadership and the people, for their generous hospitality throughout the past years."

READ: Normalisation between Turkey and Egypt is vital for East Mediterranean, Turkish FM says

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AfricaEgyptEurope & RussiaNewsTurkey
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