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Egypt and Its Ties with Iran

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TEHRAN, May 31 (ICANA) – The brief detention of an Iranian diplomat in Cairo and his departure from Egypt once again reminds one about the disapproval of the opponents of enhanced Tehran-Cairo ties over the resumption of political and economic relations between the two countries.
Tuesday, May 31, 2011 10:05:19 PM
Egypt and Its Ties with Iran

The move by Cairo -- described by Iran as a misunderstanding that was removed -- is another sign that the resumption of diplomatic, political and economic ties between Iran and Egypt is a very significant issue for those people in Egypt, as well as for the regional and international parties which vehemently oppose such a development, so that the current situation of Tehran-Cairo ties remains unchanged.

The story of the Iranian diplomat was broadcast on the Al-Arabia television, which is the mouthpiece of the Saudi regime, only a few hours after a meeting between the foreign ministers of Iran and Egypt on the sidelines of the ministerial meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM).

It seemed that both Tehran and Cairo tried to have the issue resolved quickly to avoid media hype; however, the magnification of the story in the media cast shadows on the future relations of the two countries.

It was not more than a few weeks after the successful Egyptian revolution that the Iranian and Egyptian sides expressed their willingness to resume ties. In Tehran, there was word that the Iranian foreign minister is scheduled to visit Cairo soon.

Although many Western officials got themselves to Cairo and the Liberation Square, Tehran delayed sending representatives to Egypt so that the Egyptian revolution maintains its nationalist aspect and that Iran would not be accused of making attempts to influence the developments in the North African country.

Nonetheless, the resumption of Iran-Egypt ties was set in train, and some Egyptian as well as regional and international parties felt endangered.

During the rule of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, attempts had been made several times to normalize relations between Iran and Egypt, most of which were initiated by Iran. Those attempts would however face opposition from the United States and Israel.

Washington and Tel Aviv had set several red lines for Mubarak's regime, parts of which entailed helping to maintain the siege on the Gaza Strip, contributing to the failure of attempts to bring about conciliation among Palestinians, and opposition to forging any kind of relations with Iran.

Former Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman had been charged with handling the case of Tehran-Cairo ties. He was also assigned to deal with the case of Palestine, as well as relations with the US and Israel. The security perspective of Mubarak's regime on the issue of ties with Iran could easily be sensed.

Following the Egyptian revolution and the fall of Mubarak and Suleiman from power, pressures to prevent the resumption of ties between Iran and Egypt continued to be exerted by powers outside Egypt, powers which seek to take advantage from the security disorder and economic troubles in Egypt.

It may be hard to believe that the Saudi foreign minister has travelled to Cairo six times, and every time asked the Egyptian Military Council and government not to resume ties with Iran, and was told every time that the new Egypt does not align itself with the US and Israel which have no diplomatic relations with Iran.

A drop in the number of foreign tourists visiting Egypt, the withdrawal of a part of foreign assets in the country, rampant insecurity and the activities of certain cronies of the former regime have all contributed to Egypt's economic downturn this year, so much so that different figures on the nation's economic slowdown or multi-billion-dollar budget deficit have been released.

World economic heavyweights can solve this problem. Many described the approval of a USD 20-billion bailout package at the G8 summit as an attempt to transfer Egypt and Tunisia from a Western-backed dictatorial rule to a Western-backed economic era.

It has been decided that wealthy oil-rich Persian Gulf Arab states plus several other governments offer another USD 20 billion in financial aid.

According to informed sources, the governments of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have informed Egypt that if Cairo puts Mubarak on trial and resumes ties with Iran, not only will they refuse to provide Egypt with financial aid, but they will withdraw their assets from Egypt and fire the several million Egyptians working in Saudi Arabia and the UAE. These people play a key role funneling foreign currency into Egypt.

The same sources underline that Riyadh has even proposed to offer up to USD 10 billion to Egypt in return for Mubarak not going on trial and helping him leave the country. These sources believe Saudi Arabia is concerned lest Mubarak refer to matters beyond Egypt's domestic issues and, hence, deal sever blows to the UAE, Saudi and the UAE governments.

In the face of all these pressures, the new Egyptian government announced it will leave the issue of resumption of ties with Iran to the new Egyptian parliament whose elections are slated for next fall.

This comes as the majority in Egypt's Parliament is unlikely to have any objection to the resumption of ties with Iran. In the several months left until the polls, the Middle East developments will move toward a brighter future and, as a result, it will be much easier for the Egyptian government to make decisions.

Until then, there will be no key obstacle to expansion of academic and cultural relations between Iran and Egypt, and the issue of Tehran-Cairo ties will gradually turn into a must in the Egyptian society.

Before the recent Middle East developments began to unfold, a strategic plan on the formation of an axis comprising Iran, Turkey and Iraq was in the pipeline. With the change in the Egyptian government, the possibility of Egypt joining the bloc has increased. (Press TV)

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