...after thirty hostile years, the Islamic Republic of Iran and Egypt are preparing to exchange ambassadors. The passage of two Iranian ships into the Mediterranean via the Suez Canal some weeks ago foreshadowed this new reality.
(Also see our previous posting on this subject: "Egypt Minister Proposes Opening ‘New Page’ With Iran")
Nabil el Arabi, just appointed Egypt’s Foreign Minister by the new post-revolutionary government, immediately stated he intended to restore relations with Teheran. Then he met with an Iranian official, Mugtabi Amani, in the first institutional visit since Mubarak was deposed. El Arabi then negotiated the opening of the respective embassies in Teheran and Cairo with Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akhbar Salehi. It seems that Ali Ahbar Sbuyeh, an Iranian career diplomat, will serve as Iranian ambassador to Egypt. Egypt has said that it is too early to announce his Egyptian counterpart. The delay in selecting the new Egyptian ambassador to Iran is probably the result of Egyptian Prime Minister Essam Sharaf’s very recent meeting with the Saudi King, who has made clear his dislike of this new reality.
Discussions are also underway regarding other consequences of the new reality: Egypt’s stance toward Hamas, Iran’s God-child, has changed, and weapons smuggling to Gaza through tunnels from Egyptian territory is no longer stopped by Egyptian security forces. Iran might want more explicit support for Hamas, and might also request protection for Iranian convoys carrying weapons through Sudan.
Egypt and Iran are the two historical pillars, the two great and well-armed forces, of the Sunni and Shiite branches of Islam. They counter-balanced each other.
While the Sunni branch is ambiguous toward the Muslim Brothers and al Qaeda, it has much better relations with the West and has resisted extremism in its territory.
The stronghold of the Shiite branch, on the other hand, is the Islamic Ayatollah regime, which explicitly champions the destruction of Israel and the creation of an Islamic caliphate. It supports terrorist groups whether Sunni or Shiite, including Hamas and Hezbollah. A few days ago, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the president of the Islamic Republic of Iran again made unbridled anti-Western threats running along these lines:
“The United States and other Western nations foment the Middle Eastern revolutions to save the Zionist regime. They want to overturn Syria because it is our friend… the revolt of the Arab world will in any case lead to the collapse of the Zionist regime...the USA is disloyal to the Arabs and will be kicked out of the Middle East ”.The current Egyptian government probably questions the fidelity of the USA and Obama. After all, it was no coincidence that Obama flew to Cairo on his first presidential trip where he gave his first speech to the Arab world. Egypt, which for decades was loyal to its friendship with the USA, is certainly wondering why President Obama abandoned Mubarak without thinking twice. Mubarak was the most pro-American of all the leaders of the Arab world and would have never broken the peace with Israel.
The new Egypt, now in search of allies, is under pressure from its population which moves in a much more Islamic direction. If it is true, and it is, that the Muslim Brotherhood accounts for thirty percent, it will therefore dominate the Egyptian parliament. Two days ago, the secretary and deputy supreme guide of the Muslim Brotherhood announced that sharia, with its hand cutting, stoning and terrible abuses of women, will soon be imposed.
Furthermore, after the Tahrir Square revolution, only 35% of the Egyptian population is in favour of keeping the peace treaty with Israel. Demonstrators assaulted the Israeli Embassy in Cairo.
Even Egyptian cabinet ministers can no longer restrain themselves: Samir Radwan, Minister of Finance, referring to new Israeli investments in Egypt, declared:
“We do not need investments from the enemy”.Relations between Iran and Egypt broke off after Egypt’s President Anwar Sadat’s peace treaty with Israel; it matters that this renewed friendship rests upon anti-Israeli hatred. The Iranian government dedicated a monument to Khaled al Istambuli, who murdered Sadat in the name of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad. Members of the commando, such as Abboud al Zumar, are now released. Al Zumar has said he was disappointed that his revolution resulted in Mubarak. He should wait a moment: he still has to see the results of this one.
*Vice-president of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Chair of the Committee for the Inquiry into Antisemitism, Italian Chamber of Deputies