Egypt, Iran may end years of hatred
By The Los Angeles Times
Published: Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2013, 8:32 p.m.
CAIRO — Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad arrived to a red-carpet welcome and a kiss on the cheek by Egypt's President Mohamed Morsy in a historic trip on Tuesday to strengthen relations between the two nations after decades of estrangement and suspicion.
Iran seeks a closer bond with Egypt as part of a strategy to broaden its influence in the Middle East at a time when Iran's closest ally, Syria, is enmeshed in a civil war and Ahmadinejad faces increasing pressure from Arab states in the Persian Gulf.
Morsy warmly greeted Ahmadinejad at the airport in a stark recognition of Egypt's redrawn political landscape since an uprising toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak two years ago. Mubarak had refused formal diplomatic ties with Iran, viewing the Shiite Muslim-led theocracy as a threat to Arab Sunni Muslims.
Those misgivings were quickly evident when a leading cleric condemned Iran's policies. But Morsy and his Muslim Brotherhood are intent on restoring Egypt's stature as a leading regional power.
Iran views Egypt as a potential economic partner and pivotal player in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Iran is struggling with the prospect of losing influence in Syria while trying to survive Western sanctions over its nuclear program.
“I will try to pave the ground for developing cooperation between Iran and Egypt,” Ahmadinejad was quoted by Iranian state media. “If Tehran and Cairo see more eye-to-eye on regional and international issues, many (issues) will change.”
In Cairo to attend a summit, Ahmadinejad is the first Iranian leader to visit there since Egypt gave sanctuary to the deposed shah during Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution. The bitterness intensified when Egypt signed a peace treaty with Israel the same year by Mubarak's predecessor Anwar Sadat. In the years before his downfall, Mubarak, a staunch U.S. ally, allowed informal exchanges between Egypt and Iran, but rebuffed overtures for a thaw.
The exuberant Ahmadinejad once was praised by many Egyptians for his defiance of the West. But since the revolution in Egypt has given rise to Sunni Islamists, he has become a curiosity — reviled by ultraconservatives mistrustful of Shiite ambitions and criticized by reformers over Iran's crackdowns on liberties and protesters.
“Iran-Egypt relations are so complicated and deep that they will not be solved by one trip from the Iranian president,” said Masoud Salimi, a political analyst in Tehran. “We should not expect any breakthroughs. But there will be talks about the Syrian crisis that may bear fruit toward finding a solution.”
The three-day visit comes as Ahmadinejad and Morsy face potent challenges to their leaderships.
Ahmadinejad's power, notably in foreign policy, has been scaled back in recent months by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's supreme leader. Morsy has been trying to suppress days of protests against his rule that have killed more than 50 people and questioned the Muslim Brotherhood's hold on the government.
Ahmadinejad is in Cairo for a meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, certain to highlight the differences between him and Morsy on Syria. Morsy has sided with Gulf Arab nations in support of overthrowing Syria's President Bashar Assad — a possible outcome that could upset Iran's ties with the militant groups Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Egypt decrees protection for election commission
- Missing Malaysia Airlines plane a terror target?
- Eastern European military officers say security, economic ties blunt Russia’s war threat in Ukraine
- Guardsmen in Caracas block food-shortage protest march
- Syrian military seizes rebel town near Lebanon border
- Al-Qaida’s grip transforms, terrorizes eastern Syrian city
- Cuba allows phone access to some email
- China defends burgeoning military
- Malaysia loses contact with plane carrying 239; 4 from U.S. aboard
- Statue of Egypt pharoanic princess found in Luxor
- In North Korea, voting’s really a breeze: You must vote and you get 1 candidate