Egypt refutes diplomatic breakthrough with Iran, stresses unchanged position

Samar Al-Gamal , Monday 15 May 2023

Egypt swept away any speculation of an imminent diplomatic breakthrough with Iran, refuting claims made by Iranian officials about talks to fully normalize relations between the two countries.



A well-informed source denied on Monday any rapprochement with Tehran and emphasized that Cairo's position remains "unchanged."

“Nothing is happening,” the source told Ahram online.

Such discussions, the source explained, would require careful preparations and a checklist of engagements to be reviewed on the bilateral and regional levels, similar to what occurred with Turkey. 

"I am not aware of any sort of such engagement until now," the source asserted.

In an interview with the Iranian News Agency (IRNA) on Sunday, Iranian Foreign Minister Amirabdollahian said that Tehran and Cairo are in direct contact through their respective interests’ sections. 

"We have always welcomed the development of relations between Tehran and Cairo," affirmed Amirabdollahian. "The heads of our missions in Tehran and Cairo have had positive meetings, and there is good access to the authorities of both countries." 

On the same day, Fadahussein Maleki, a member of the Iranian Parliament's National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, claimed that ongoing negotiations are held between Iran and Egypt in Iraq, hinting at the potential re-establishment of diplomatic relations in the near future. 

"We anticipate the opening of embassies between the two countries," Maleki stated, suggesting the possibility of a meeting between the Iranian and Egyptian Presidents following this step.

Tehran has been increasingly vocal about its hopes for thawing the long-frozen relationship between Iran and Egypt, yet Cairo has chosen to remain silent, refraining from making any official comments on the Iranian approach up until now.

"The ongoing official silence from Egypt is a position," another source told Ahram Online earlier.

“The issue is one-sided, with one party persistently pursuing it while the other party does not respond at all. Such a situation indicates a certain level of caution, suggesting that further review of the matter may be necessary," said Mohammed Abbas, an expert on Iranian affairs.

Following the recent deal between Saudi Arabia and Iran, Egypt has been observing to see whether there will be any changes in Iran's regional politics.

Abbas says that Iran's current policy in the region is being put to the test.

According to sources, Iran will have to prove that it will no longer interfere in the internal affairs of regional countries – a crucial condition for Egypt to restore ties with Iran.

"Is Iran willing to support stability efforts in the region, which is a foreign policy priority for Egypt?" questioned Abbas, highlighting Egypt's "good-neighbor approach." 

Cairo has explicit concerns about Iran's interference in Syria, Palestine, and Iraq. It questions Iran’s willingness to support the efforts to resolve ongoing crises such as the conflict in Yemen.

Iranian Foreign Minister and other high-ranking officials in Ebrahim Raisi's administration have consistently advocated for a new "balanced foreign policy" approach that focuses on strengthening relations with neighbouring countries. 

Since June of last year, Iraq has expressed hopes to “facilitate political and security talks aimed at restoring relations between Egypt and Iran.”

The Emirati daily newspaper, The National, stated in its 8 May edition that Egypt and Iran have been engaging in security talks in Baghdad since March.

Abbas believes that Tehran is encouraged by the general trend of normalization of relations in the region, including the Saudi-Iran deal, the return of Syria to the Arab League, and the warming relations between Turkey and Syria and those between Turkey and Israel.  

“Ending a 40-year rift with Egypt will end Iran’s isolation in the region”, he said.

The strained relations between Cairo and Tehran trace back to the Islamic revolution in 1979 when Ayatollah Khomeini, the revolution's leader, decided to sever diplomatic relations with Egypt in response to the Camp David agreement with Israel.

The tensions escalated when the late Egyptian President, El-Sadat, decided in 1980 to provide asylum to the Shah of Iran, Reza Pahlavi.

Diplomatic ties partially resumed 11 years later under President Hosni Mubarak at the level of chargé d’affaires rather than embassy level.

Former Iranian President Khatami met Mubarak in 2003 during the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) that was held in Geneva.

Furthermore, both Iranian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Kamal Kharazi, and Secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, Ali Larijani, visited Egypt reciprocally in 2001 and 2006. 

Relations improved following the election of President Mohammed Morsi in 2012. During Morsi’s presidency, Egypt and Iran exchanged visits at the level of presidents.  

Search Keywords:
Short link: