Relations between Iran and Egypt can be restored
Azerbaijan, Baku, March 9 /Trend, T.Jafarov/
Despite the optimism of the Iranian Foreign Minister regarding the prospects of relations between Iran and Egypt after Hosni Mubarak's resignation, Egypt has not yet given the 'green light' to restore relations with that country. However, experts believe that after Mubarak's resignation, more favorable conditions have formed.
The development of relations between Iran and Egypt, which are two large Muslim countries, will improve the situation in the region, said an Iranian expert on Middle East and the Iranian-Arab relations Hassan Hanizadeh.
The only obstacle to the restoration of Iranian-Egyptian relations was Hosni Mubarak, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi told the Lebanese newspaper al-Akhbar. He said if the Foreign Ministry of Egypt invites him, he shall immediately make a visit to Cairo.
The Turkish expert Ismail Yashi, who lives in Saudi Arabia, believes Hosni Mubarak's regime was only part of the problem between Tehran and Cairo.
"Another part of the problem is the desire of the Iranian authorities to gain greater credibility in the region, using a variety of factors," Yashi told Trend by telephone from Riyadh.
Most of Iran's population is Shiites, and Egypt - the Sunnis. With regards to the authorities, Sharia is acting in Iran, but Egypt is a secular state. Egypt, Saudi Arabia and other Sunni Arab countries accuse Iran of trying to strengthen its credibility by supporting the Shiites living in the region.
Diplomatic relations between Iran and Egypt broke in 1979 after the Islamic revolution in Iran, when Egypt gave an asylum to Iranian Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, as well as because of Egypt's signing a peace agreement with Israel (Camp David Accords).
Despite the break in relations between the two countries, there is little economic relation, and over the last two years, the issue of opening flights between these states has been discussed.
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was forced to resign on Feb. 11 as a result of riots.
Hanizadeh believes falling Mubarak's regime will create conditions for the development of political relations between Iran and Egypt. "I think that the relations between Iran and the new government of Egypt have reached the level of the appointment of ambassadors. The current Foreign Minister of Egypt is Nabi al-Arabi, who is interested in developing ties with Iran. He has made efforts to do it even during the presidency of Mubarak," Hanizadeh told Trend by telephone from Tehran.
Nabi al-Arabi, is a former judge of the Hague Tribunal. Al-Arabi, speaking against the Mubarak regime, served as legal adviser to Egypt at the time of signing the Camp David Accords in 1978. However, he repeatedly protested against the blockade of Hamas, an ally of the Iranian government in Palestine.
Yashi said if Iran gives up expanding its influence in the region, the Iranian-Egyptian relations can normalize. "Salehi can make a visit to Egypt, but if Iran continues its policy of expanding its influence in the region, there will be no change in the relations between the two countries," said Yashi.
During Mohammad Khatami's presidency, Iran made special efforts to restore ties between the two countries, but for some reasons, no progress has been achieved. During first presidential term of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, steps were also taken to restore relations. As an example, it is possible to mention Iranian Speaker Haddad Adil's visit to Egypt and his meeting with Mubarak, Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani's visit to Egypt, and Vice President of Iran, Chairman of the Organization of Cultural Heritage and Tourism Hamid Begai's visit to Egypt in October 2010. After Begai's visit, for the first time over the last 30 years, flights have been restored between Iran and Egypt.
Hanizadeh said restoration of political relations between the two countries will give a boost to development of economic ties as well. "Iran, developing its activities in the textile industry in Egypt, may help the economy of this country. Furthermore, Egypt has many places of pilgrimage, which attract the Iranians. These factors may give an impetus to improving relations between the two countries," said Hanizadeh.