Paris, 30 Jan. (IPS) If Iran-Egypt relations are restored, it would be the first time in the life of the Islamic Republic of Iran that one of the taboos of the theocratic regime is removed, paving also the way to the normalization of relations with the United States in the one hand and easing significantly tensions in the Middle East on the other.
To punish Egypt, the first Arab nation to have officially recognized the Jewish State and established full diplomatic relations with it, Grand Ayatollah Rouhollah Khomeini, the leader of the Islamic Revolution and the father of the Islamic Republic of Iran cut all relations with Egypt immediately after his victory in 1979 and ruled that ties would never be restored unless Cairo breaks all relations with Tel Aviv.
Father of the Islamic Republic of Iran ruled out any relations with Egypt until Cairo cuts all ties with Israel
Antagonism between the two nations increased after the late Anwar Sadat gave sanctuary to the deposed Shah of Iran –who died in Cairo hospital --, and alongside of all other Arab states except Syria, send millions of workers and soldiers to Iraq, helping the Iraqi dictator’s war against the new Iranian theocratic regime.
However, relations took the form of a Russian mountain after the death of the Iranian autocrat in 1989 and on occasions, the two countries would even stand side by side in international forums debating the Middle East and Islamic affairs.
On 28 January 2008, Iranian Foreign Affairs Minister Mahouchehr Mottaki announced in a press conference that Tehran and Cairo are on the "verge of resuming political ties".
“Deputy foreign affairs ministers of both sides have already met and technical committees are working to remove the remaining details obstructing pavement of full relations. Now we are waiting for our Egyptian brothers to express their readiness in this connection”, he added.
His revelations, though not surprising, followed the first direct telephone contact established last week by the Iranian fanatic President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad with his Egyptian counterpart Hosni Mubarak, discussion the situation in Gaza, the way Iran could help both Egypt and the Palestinians stranded in the Strip, known as the “greatest open air prison of the world”.
Iranian Foreign Affairs Minister Mahouchehr Mottaki announced that Tehran and Cairo are on the "verge of resuming political ties".
Without providing any detail, Mr. Mottaki said: “Now my representative is in Egypt and he has taken my special message to my counterpart and now Iran and Egypt’s relationship is going ahead in a natural way”, referring to deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Ali Asghar Mohammadi who had delivered a "special message" to Egypt's Foreign Minister, Ahmad Ali Abu-al-Ghayth.
According to Egypt's Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman Hossam Zaki, differences between Cairo and Tehran centred on security and regional issues.
"Progress must be made on this before a resumption of relations", he told the French news agency AFP, adding that "talks are continuing between the two countries to resolve questions preventing a resumption of full diplomatic relations".
But Iran's former nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani, now a Representative of Mr. Khamenehei at the regime’s Supreme Council on National Security was reported to have cautioned the two nations against rushing to renew relations.
One of the most sensitive obstacles preventing full relations between Cairo and Tehran was Egypt’s condition of removing the name of Khaled al Eslambouli, the terrorist who assassinated Sadat and whom the Iranian ayatollahs honoured as a “hero of Islam” and gave his name to one of the streets in Tehran.
Against heavy pressures from conservative circles, on July 2004, Tehran City Council, then controlled by a certain Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and preparing the capital for a scheduled visit of the Egyptian President, changed the name of the street to that of Intifada, in recognition of the Palestinian uprising, but refused to take down a large mural of the terrorist, another of Egyptian conditions for resuming relations.
"Talks and meetings are continuing between the two countries, but we must not rush this question", the official Egyptian news agency MENA quoted former Iranian top nuclear negotiator as having cautioned during a joint news conference with Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa.
Mr. Larijani was in Cairo late December 2007 on a private visit and besides Mr. Moussa, he had also met and discussed various matters with the Head of Al Azhar Islamic Centre, the Security and Intelligence Minister, the Foreign Affairs Minister, a number of academics and leading newsmen, briefing them on the views and positions of Iran on international and regional issues as well as the controversial Iranian nuclear activities.
Iran Foreign Affairs Minister announced that Iran and Egypt are on the way to restore full diplomatic relations.
Though normalizing with Cairo had been on the agendas of the two post Khomeini presidents of Iran, namely Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and Hojjatoleslam Mohammad Khatami, but they had been vetoed by the megalomaniac Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenehei.
However, observers say, he might have changed his mind now that a conservative government, and an assertive one, is at work and every success it achieves would be seen as a victory for him.
In a visit last May to the United Arab Emirate, Mr. Ahmadinejad had said if the Egyptians announce their readiness, he would order Iranian embassy in Cairo to open its doors “right now”.
Speaker of the Iranian Majles became Thursday 30 January the first and highest Iranian official to be received by the Egyptian President Hosni Mobarak, confirming reports and declarations announcing that Tehran and Cairo are close to reestablishing full diplomatic relations.
In Cairo to assist the ongoing Islamic inter-parliamentary conference, Mr Haddad Adel, who was received in audience by the Egyptian Rais with Mr. Ala’eddin Broujerdi, the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs and Security Committee of the Majles described the meeting “very constructive and fruitful, with Mr. Mobarak assuring he would never bow to American pressures aimed at preventing normalization of relations between the two nations”.
No to recognizing the existence of Israel and no to normalizing with the “Great Satan” (United States) were Grand Ayatollah’s two other main taboos. But while the first is bound to stay for many, many years to come, Iran has conditioned resumption of relations with Washington to the change in America’s attitude towards the Islamic Republic.
Iran and Egypt, both cradles of civilizations, have behind them centuries-old relations of more love than hate.
the prospect of restoring ties between Iran and Egypt would have tremendous impact on the whole of the area.
Part of the Persian Empire, Egypt had helped Persia anytime in difficulty in its wars with Greece or Roman empires. But despite the fact that Egypt became an Arab nation after the invasion of Islam while Iran resisted centuries of Islamic despotism, and kept its identity, the basic ties remained and reinforced between Cairo and Tehran, the two major capitals of the Middle East.
It is interesting to note that while Iranians in general do not like the Arabs and vice versa, they make an exception with the Egyptians, whom they regard not like Arabs, but Egyptians. Same goes with Lebanon.
Deposed Shah’s Mohammad Reza Pahlavi first wife was the beautiful Egyptian royal family Princess Fawzieh, the younger sister of the last Egyptian King Farouq.
In the October 1973 War, known in Israel as the Yom Kippur War and in the Arab world as the Ramadan War, the Shah allowed Soviet military planes use Iranian airspace to ship much needed materials to the Egyptian forces and afterward paid a landmark visit to Cairo on the invitation of President Sadat.
Even if it is not coming soon, but the prospect of restoring ties between Iran and Egypt, the region’s most influential nations, would have tremendous impact on the whole of the area, reinforcing the positions of both nations facing the United States and Israel in a positive way, helping peace in the Middle East and solving many impending problems from Iraq to Lebanon and Palestine. ENDS IRAN EGYPT 30108.