May 15, 2024 | The Jerusalem Post

Iran is seeking closer ties to Egypt

Iran is seeking outreach to not only Egypt by also Saudi Arabia. Recent reports also indicate that Iran has threatened Jordan.
May 15, 2024 | The Jerusalem Post

Iran is seeking closer ties to Egypt

Iran is seeking outreach to not only Egypt by also Saudi Arabia. Recent reports also indicate that Iran has threatened Jordan.

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said that Iran has a strategy for regional cooperation with Egypt, according to reports in Iranian media on May 15. He “made the remarks in an interview with IRNA’s foreign policy reporter on the sidelines of the third Iranian-Arab Dialogue Conference dubbed ‘For Cooperation and Interaction’ in Tehran on Sunday,” according to the Iranian state media outlet.

Iran is seeking outreach not only to Egypt by also Saudi Arabia. Recent reports also indicate that Tehran has threatened Jordan. The Kingdom of Jordan recently thwarted an Iran-linked arms smuggling plot.

The goal of Iran is clearly to make inroads in Jordan and Egypt, two countries that have made peace with and border Israel. The Islamic Republic also backs the Syrian regime and Hezbollah in Lebanon. Tehran is also doing outreach to Saudi Arabia, likely to prevent normalization with Israel. This was all set in motion in part by the October 7 attack, which Iran has exploited to try to isolate the Jewish state.

“The Iranian government, with its policy based on dialogue, cooperation and synergy with adjacent and neighboring countries, has been able to achieve significant results in building trust, establishing an all-around approach and accomplishing real, tangible and transparent achievements with Islamic countries, including Saudi Arabia and Egypt, Amirabdollahian said while responding to a question regarding the place of Egypt in Iran-Arab relations,” IRNA reported.

“He also talked about the continuous high-level engagements between Tehran and Cairo at different regional and international platforms,” the report noted.

The UAE’s Al-Ain media also reported about Iran’s outreach. “The Iranian Foreign Minister met with his Egyptian counterpart, Sameh Shoukry, recently, on the sidelines of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation meeting. During the meeting, the latest developments in efforts to strengthen bilateral relations were discussed,” the report noted.

“Tehran is keen on rapprochement with Cairo not only now, but for a long time, and has been waiting,” an expert told Al-Ain media. “Iran has been exposed strategically after the military escalation that occurred between it and Israel recently, against the backdrop of the war in Gaza, at a time when the pressures on the Iranian economy are intensifying due to the weight of the sanctions,” according to the Egyptian analyst.

Heightened tensions between Israel and Egypt

Egypt-Israel tensions have increased after Jerusalem began an operation in Rafah near the Egyptian border earlier this month. Cairo has now supported the South African case against Israel at the International Court of Justice. Nevertheless, reports say Egypt is proceeding with caution in relation to Iran ties.

The report says that ties between Egypt and Turkey will become warmer faster than between Iran and Egypt because of “Iran’s regional policies, and its insistence on imposing its influence in Arab countries, as well as its relations with the Houthi group, and the impact of this on the security of navigation in the Red Sea and the Suez Canal, which is harmful to the Egyptian economy,” an expert told Al-Ain. Also Iran’s escalation against Israel harms Egypt’s attempts to seek peace.

Nevertheless Iran-Egypt ties are progressing, which is important for the region. Iran has sought out diplomatic rapprochement with many countries in the region recently. It has improved ties with Saudi Arabia; the Iranian-backed Syrian regime has also done outreach to the Gulf.

However, in order for Iran to get the ball to the end zone in terms of improving ties with Egypt, it should stop the Houthi attacks on ships in the Red Sea, which are harming Egypt’s economy. This is one of the messages of the Al-Ain article. “One of the major points of contention is the war in Gaza, and the Iranian role in it,” the report notes, “in addition to the fact that Tehran wants – after the Red Sea – to have a foothold in the Mediterranean, and Cairo knows of these intentions.”

Seth Frantzman is the author of Drone Wars: Pioneers, Killing Machine, Artificial Intelligence and the Battle for the Future (Bombardier 2021) and an adjunct fellow at The Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

Issues:

Arab Politics Egypt Iran Iran Global Threat Network Israel Israel at War Military and Political Power