Egyptian/Iranian relations

By Ted Belman

In the Land of the Pharaohs is an article by Abdullah Iskandar, Al-Hayat.

He begins by explaining that the Egyptians are restrained from having diplomatic relations with Iran because of American pressure while Iran asserts it has no preconditions. Nor will it make compromises in its behavior.

Iran’s strategy in its confrontation with the US is “to win the neutrality of the Arabs in the confrontation or even win some of them over.”

    From an Egyptian practical perspective, official Iran still adheres to the policy of glorifying the killer of Anwar Sadat. Even with Egypt’s national dignity aside, this glorification implies a complete rejection of all Egyptian policies that have resulted from the peace accord with Israel. However, a bigger source of anxiety is that the terrorism from which Egypt continues to suffer still finds its justification in this glorification. Different varieties of terror have hit several Arab countries and there are evidences implicating Iran as it poses as a “crossing point” and a “safe haven” for those wanted in their own countries on terror charges, some of whom are Egyptians. Other evidence indicates that Iran is a rear base for al-Qaida members, who are moving to Afghanistan and Iraq.


    In Iraq, Iranian intervention takes place through support, training and mobilization in a direction that goes against the Arab consensus, especially regarding the efforts by Arab moderates including Egypt, to rearrange Iraq while taking into consideration all sectarian, ethnic and regional components and without blaming the Sunnis for the crimes of the former regime.

Gaza/Egyptian Border

    At the direct political level, while Tehran was declaring its desire to normalize relations with Egypt, the Gaza crossing-points crisis broke out; causing an embarrassing confrontation between Egypt and the Palestinians, especially that Egypt is also a guarantor participant in the international agreements over the security of these borders.

    The crisis came at the peak of the political attack by Hamas at the domestic Palestinian front, relying on direct support from Iran and Syria. This has led to the view that the border crossing crisis was a form of pressure on Egypt, at the domestic and regional levels, more than a tool of pressure on Israel to lift the unjust siege on the Gaza Strip.


    At the same time, Iran is moving in the direction of obstructing the Arab plan for Lebanon which finally emerged as a result of an Egyptian-Saudi initiative. Aside from the fabrications aimed at obstructing the presidential election, Iran’s sponsorship of Hezbollah which is the backbone of the opposition in Lebanon and its support to the opposition in various ways, all contribute to fueling the continued institutional vacuum in an Arab country. Egypt finds itself on the opposite side of this Iranian policy.

In general

    Cairo is fully aware of the Iranian’s behavior and demands that it be reviewed. Only once Iran makes this revaluation (abandoning the glorification of terror, halting direct intervention in combustible Arab issues, and opposing Arab moderates), can normal relations between Iran and the Arabs be expected.
February 5, 2008 | Comments »

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