Egypt and Iran

Egypt and Iran

President Mubarak sees Iran and its attempt to exert more influence throughout the region as Egypt’s biggest long-term threat, due to its support for HAMAS, weapons and illegal funds’ smuggling.

Moreover, Egypt sees Iran as an enemy trying to undermine the peace process with Israel while threatening Egypt ’s stability in Lebanon and Sudan . Of even more concern is Iran ’s attempts to interfere in Gaza, Lebanon, Iraq and Sudan. Egypt wants to secure a permanent ceasefire between Israel and Hamas and to stop arms’ smuggling into Gaza while facilitating negotiations concerning Palestine .


Before the downfall of Saddam , Iraq stood as a wall against Iran, but now that power in Iraq has changed hands, Iran has arisen as a new threat throughout the entire region. The immediate threat is seen to be Iran ’s conspiracies with Hamas which Mubarak sees as the offspring of his rival at home, the Muslim Brotherhood. Most of all, Egypt is concerned with Iran ’s nuclear threat and Iran’s pan-Shiism threatening to dominate the region.


Many Egyptians see US involvement in the region as a cause for optimism and at the same time, Egypt does not intend to resume normal diplomatic ties with Iran until security issues are addressed. One point of dispute in Egypt ’s opinion is Iran naming one of their streets ‘Islambouli street’ after Sadat’s assassin.


Since Egypt’s recent arrest of a Hezballah cell in Sinai – which was working with Bedouins -, Mubarak has confronted Hezballah and Iran and does not allow Iran to operate in Egypt, sending a clear message that if Iran interferes with Egypt, then Egypt will interfere with Iran.


Iran spends about $25 million a month on funding Hamas but Egypt was successfully preventing financial support from entering Gaza through Egypt .


Egypt’s foreign minister, Aboul Gheit, expected the US to engage with Iran, however, he is sure that Iran will not stop its enrichment activities. He also believes that the obstinacy of both Israel and Iran will put the US in a difficult position with the Islamic world. Egypt firmly believes that the Middle East should be nuclear free and this means Israel should give up its nuclear weapons. Even though the US does not believe nuclear-armed Israel is a threat, the Middle East generally has a different opinion. Mubarak believes that if the US pushes Israel to give up its nuclear weapons, both the US and Arab government would be in a much better position to demand that Iran gives up theirs.


However, it is not expected that Israel will give up its nuclear weapons in the absence of regional peace. Egypt , however, refers back to the 1995 Nuclear Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which called for a Middle East Nuclear Weapons Free Zone (MENWFZ).

At the same time, the Arab League, secretary-general, Moussa minimizes Iran’s threat to the region, saying that the Arab world should intensify its economic and cultural ties with Iran . However, Moussa sees that the greatest danger to the region is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and that the US should urge Israel to stop settlement activity and advance the political process between Israelis and Palestinians.