Archive for the 'Iran-Egypt Relations' Category

“Egyptian nuclear leadership – time to realign?”

“Egyptian nuclear leadership – time to realign?”
November 19, 2009
     Kimberly Misher urges Egypt to renew its regional leadership at next year’s NPT Review Conference to promote the implementation of the 1995 Resolution on the Middle East. Arguing that stalemate in the NPT regime is hurting Egypt’s desire for a united Arab position, Misher writes that as chair of the New Agenda Coalition and the Non-Aligned Movement at the conference, Egypt should tone down its “principled” positions, such as its “impractical” stance on Israel’s nuclear status, and be more willing to work with the US. In turn, Misher urges the US to negotiate toward a middle ground on Egypt’s demands, arguing that the NPT provides the best means for preventing proliferation by Iran and other states.
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

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“Saudi Arabia, Egypt hope peace process, arms will counter Iran’s influence”

“Saudi Arabia, Egypt hope peace process, arms will counter Iran’s influence”
November 10-19, 2009
     Ahead of French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s visit to Saudi Arabia, Michael Slackman writes that Saudi Arabia and Egypt are losing their regional influence to Iran partly due to the failure of the US to convince Israel to freeze its building of settlements. Slackman writes that while Riyadh is stressing Arab unity, specifically by drawing Syria away from Iran and in support of the peace process, Cairo believes a lack of progress on the peace process will continue to undermine the regional influence of America’s two closest Arab allies. Riyadh’s strategy may involve allowing Damascus to assert political control of Lebanon (New York Times).
     Riyadh is reportedly hoping that France will be able to help reinvigorate the peace process after a “disappointing” US effort. Sarkozy and Saudi officials also discussed potential arms deals and peaceful nuclear cooperation (BBC). Iran’s rising influence is continuing to drive arms procurements among the Arab states [previously covered here] (United Press International).
New York Times | BBC | United Press International

“Arab states remain unwilling to directly challenge Iran over nuclear concerns”

“Arab states remain unwilling to directly challenge Iran over nuclear concerns”
August 20-27, 2009
     Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak recently rejected the idea of joining a US nuclear umbrella [previously covered here], reaffirming Egypt’s support for a nuclear-free Middle East. Fareed Mahdy reports that Mubarak urged US President Barack Obama to gain more legitimacy on the Iranian nuclear issue by pressing Israel to dismantle its nuclear weapons. Mahdy writes that Egypt’s views are widely supported by Arab states, pointing to statements by Arab League head Amre Moussa questioning the existence of an Iranian military nuclear program and stressing Israel’s status as the region’s sole nuclear-armed state (IPS News).
     Peter Kenyon writes that despite having serious concerns over Iran’s nuclear ambitions, Arab states hope to avoid confrontation and are unwilling to explicitly align themselves with the US against Iran [previously covered here]. Emile Hokayem believes this is complicating US strategy. Other analysts believe Washington’s attention is shifting toward Afghanistan and Pakistan and that Iran will work to keep the US entangled in Afghanistan (National Public Radio).
IPS News | National Public Radio

“Iran FM’s meetings with Arab rivals could signal more moderate regional posture”

“Iran FM’s meetings with Arab rivals could signal more moderate regional posture”
July 17-22, 2009
     Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki met with officials from Egypt, Lebanon and other Arab states at last week’s NAM summit held in Egypt. An Iranian diplomat described the three meetings between the foreign ministers of Iran and Egypt as “positive and cordial”, and analysts believe there may be a thaw in the two states’ tense relations (Daily Star, Canadian Press). Mottaki also met with officials from the Palestinian Authority, who urged Tehran to support the formation of a unity Palestinian government. Although no concrete agreements were reached, Mottaki reportedly responded that Tehran supported Palestinian dialogue and unity (Asharq Alawsat). Israel strongly criticized the PA for meeting with “the most violent and extreme enemies of peace” (BBC).
     Kaveh L. Afrasiabi argues that President Ahmadinejad is trying to “tread the path of moderation” in the region’s politics, adding that in recent speeches, Ahmadinejad has called for “constructive engagement” with other states. Afrasiabi also cites Ahmadinejad’s appointment of Ali Akbar Salehi as head of Iran’s nuclear agency [previously covered here] and promotion of Efsandiar Rahim Mashaie, who previously created controversy for saying Iran was a “friend of the Israeli people”, as first vice president despite strong opposition from conservative leaders (Asia Times Online). However, other analysts doubt that Tehran will withdraw its backing of Hamas or otherwise support the Israeli-Palestine peace process, calling Tehran’s position on the Palestinian issue “immovable” (Trend News).
Daily Star | Canadian Press | Asharq Alawsat | BBC | Asia Times Online | Trend News

“Domestic turmoil could weaken Tehran’s hold on Hezbollah, Hamas”

“Domestic turmoil could weaken Tehran’s hold on Hezbollah, Hamas”
July 20 & 21, 2009
     Ben Holland and Massoud A. Derhally write that domestic turmoil and economic troubles could distract Iran’s leaders from coordinating support for Palestinian group Hamas and Lebanon’s Hezbollah. Some analysts believe this could further isolate Tehran by encouraging Syria, which helps Tehran arm Hezbollah, to move closer to the US. Saudi Arabia and Egypt could gain influence over Hamas and pressure the group toward forming a unity Palestinian government with Fatah (Bloomberg). Juan Cole counters that Tehran is likely to continue supporting Hamas and Hezbollah in order to secure much-needed prestige, adding that the two groups could “thrive” without foreign support or obtain funds from Iran’s rivals in the region (Informed Comment).
     In a report featuring an interview with Sheikh Naim Qassem, Hezbollah’s second-in-command, Nicholas Blanford suggests that Hezbollah’s future could depend on the continued rein of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. Blanford details the reliance of Hezbollah, which was established in 1982 with Iranian help, on Khamenei for spiritual and political leadership as well as for an estimated “hundreds of millions of dollars” in funds annually for its social welfare and military activities. Blanford adds that Hezbollah may choose not to retaliate on behalf of Tehran in the event of a full-scale attack on Iran (Christian Science Monitor).
Bloomberg | Informed Comment | Christian Science Monitor

“Cairo-Tehran tensions high ahead of NAM summit in Egypt”

“Cairo-Tehran tensions high ahead of NAM summit in Egypt”
July 1-8, 2009
     As Egypt prepares to host the 15th summit of the Non-Aligned Movement, a lawyer of the Muslim Brotherhood has filed a complaint with Egypt’s prosecutor general to prevent the attendance of President Ahmadinejad. The lawyer called Ahmadinejad’s reelection illegitimate and accused Ahmadinejad of provoking Sunnis by insulting two companions of the Prophet Mohammed (Al Arabiya, The National). Egyptian navy vessels recently accompanied an Israeli Dolphin-class submarine through the Suez Canal in a move described as a show of coordination in the face of Iran’s nuclear program (Agence France-Presse). The submarines, which are believed to carry nuclear missiles, have long avoided the Suez Canal to prevent exposure to Egyptian authorities (Reuters).
     Michael Crowley outlines the troubled history between Egypt and Iran, writing that tensions have worsened since Cairo blocked its borders with Palestinian group Hamas, which receives support from Tehran, during Israel’s recent military offensive against the Gaza Strip. Earlier this year, Egyptian authorities arrested members of an alleged Hezbollah cell and accused Tehran of attempting to topple the Egyptian government. Crowley argues this rivalry has allowed the US to enlist Cairo’s support in uniting Sunni Arab opposition to Iran’s nuclear program and increase pressure on Tehran (New Republic).
Al Arabiya | The National | Agence-France Presse | Reuters | New Republic

“Israel struggles to halt Iran-Russia arms deal”

“Israel struggles to halt Iran-Russia arms deal”
June 28-July 1, 2009
     Israel is contining to pressure Russia [previously covered here] not to supply Iran with S-300 air defense missiles that could potentially neutralize an Israeli airstrike. Russia had previously stated that the delayed deal would not be completed, but Russian President Dmitry Medvedev recently told Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman that Iran had already made some payments. Medvedev suggested that Israel or a third party buy the defense system instead, but Lieberman did not provide a clear response (Haaretz). The $800-million contract with Iran comes as Russia faces trouble in key arms markets in China and India (RIA Novosti).
     Israel has stepped up its efforts, which have included a phone call from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Russia Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, in the run-up to US President Barack Obama’s visit to Moscow next week. United Press International writes that Obama is “certain” to support Israeli’s position, citing US concern that the sale could lead Israel to unilaterally attack Iran’s nuclear facilities before the S-300 defense system becomes operational (UPI).
     Egypt has expressed interest in purchasing Russia’s S-300 and S-400 air defense systems, the latter being capable of targeting long-range ballistic missiles and cruise missiles. Israeli officials denied that Egypt’s interest was related to Israel, describing the move as an effort to counter Iran’s growing missile capability (Jerusalem Post).
Haaretz | RIA Novosti | United Press International | Jerusalem Post