Egypt downgraded diplomatic relations with Turkey on Saturday and ordered its ambassador expelled from Cairo.
Relations between the two countries have been tense since the Egyptian military’s ousting of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi.
Turkey’s Islamic-rooted ruling party had strongly backed Morsi as an example for the Arab world of a democratically elected Islamist leader.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan issued a blunt rebuff to Egypt’s army-backed rulers:
“Our attitude is not against the Egyptian people, but the coup- makers, as we are on the side of democratic struggles in the world. We don’t respect those who don’t respect the sovereign rights of people,” declared Erdoğan on live television
Turkey is one of the fiercest critics of Morsi’s removal, calling it an “unacceptable coup” by the army.
Turkey reciprocated by declaring the Egyptian ambassador “persona non grata” and downgrading relations with Egypt.
Egyptian foreign Ministry spokesman Badr Abdelatty made no specific allegations against Turkey in announcing the ambassador’s expulsion, but said:
“This represents a new episode in a string of instances and statements issued by them, (Turkey), that reflects an unacceptable determination to challenge the will of the great Egyptian people and a lack of respect for their legitimate choices and interference in the internal affairs of the country.”
Saturday’s decision comes after the Turkish prime minister renewed his criticism of Egypt’s new leaders, dismissing the trial of Morsi and describing on Thursday the situation in Egypt as a “humanitarian drama.”