Posts Tagged 'Egypt'

“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

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“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

“Coverage of protests largely subdued among Iran’s Arab allies and enemies”

“Coverage of protests largely subdued among Iran’s Arab allies and enemies”
June 22 & 23, 2009
     In an overview of Arab media coverage of the protests in Iran, Josie Delap and Robert Lane Greene speculate that state media in Egypt and Saudi Arabia, both of which strongly oppose Iran’s nuclear program, have been “eerily quiet” on the protests due to government fears of similar domestic discontent. Controversy over the election results has also been downplayed in Syria, an ally of Iran, as well as in media owned by Lebanon’s Hezbollah. However, media outlets in Lebanon and the Gulf emirates (with the exception of Bahrain) are offering more extensive coverage and have been supportive of the Iranian opposition, and pan-Arab publications based in London have portrayed the current developments as a serious threat to the Iranian government (The New Republic).
     Other analysts add that Arab states such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia are afraid of angering Tehran and continue to hope the US and European states will address the election issue and the overall Iranian threat (Associated Press). Ronen Berman writes that debate in Palestinian online media has been minimal due to the view that regardless of the outcome of the controversy, Iran will continue to provide support for Hamas and Islamic Jihad and seek to destroy Israel. Nicholas Blanford says that while Hezbollah prefers President Ahmadinejad to Mir-Hossein Mousavi, they are more concerned about the power struggle between Iran’s clerical rulers and Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, as Khamenei has provided the group with funds, arms and military training (New York Times).
The New Republic | Associated Press | New York Times