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Ahmadinejad in Egypt? | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Whilst talking to Egyptian delegates in Iran, the Iranian President said that he did not see any reason why not to visit Egypt, after the departure of those who do not want him there. In Tehran, Ahmadinejad said: “In Cairo, officials used to reject our presence in Egypt, and now they have left…However, we will wait to receive a formal invitation, and when that time comes I will visit Egypt immediately”.

In other words, Ahmadinejad wants to put forth the idea that Egyptian-Iranian differences are mere personality differences, rather than differences in interests and national security. He wants to suggest that had the former regime continued to remain in power, the opposition between the two countries would have continued in the same fashion. The Iranian President is trying to exploit Egypt’s rejection of its former regime in the interests of his own country, in a populist manner, whereby he wants to say to the Egyptians that Iran was wronged by Mubarak, just like you.

This is not all, of course. According to what was reported by the Egyptian delegates, Ahmadinejad spoke about what he called a Western conspiracy aiming to break up the Arab and Muslim world, striking its military and strategic strength. Ahmadinejad claimed that: “the solidarity of Egypt and Iran would be guaranteed to dispel the arrogance of the Zionist enemy, and limit America”, and that “the resilience of the people, with the Egyptians at the forefront, would crystalize a new Middle East without America and Israel”. Ahmadinejad also told his Egyptian visitors that the US will set out conditions for lending money and helping their country, whilst Iran would not impose any conditions for its assistance! As I mentioned above, what is this other than populist, opportunistic discourse; a discourse that is in fact insulting to Egypt and the Egyptians? Ahmadinejad, by talking in this way, is fundamentally establishing the preconditions he wants for Egypt: He wants Egypt to be free of those who do not want Iran, he wants an Egypt of resistance and opposition, i.e. to dismantle peace agreements with Israel, which would mean a new war, and he wants Egypt to act like Hezbollah and the al-Maliki government; subservient to the Supreme Guide.

As for those who believe Ahmadinejad, or think that he wants what’s best for Egypt, they should consider Iran’s other alliances in the region. Iran is allied with al-Qaeda in Iraq and with Afghanistan, and yet Tehran was the one who provided assistance when Washington first invaded Iraq. Iran is also allied with Hezbollah, Hamas and Syria, and at times it has also enjoyed Turkish and Qatari sympathy, especially after the war between Israel and Hezbollah in 2006, when the “opposition and resistance” camp came to prominence. Here the Egyptians must ask themselves: What have these alliances brought to the region as a whole, or to the respective allies, or even to those who have sympathized with Iran? Now we see Turkey and Qatar standing with the defenseless Syrian people to protect them from the al-Assad killing machine, while Ahmadinejad’s Iran is the only Islamic country supplying al-Assad with weapons, funding and personnel. Here are the Iraqis struggling to overthrow the al-Maliki government while Tehran stands by it with all its strength, so is Iran really the state that Egypt should ally with? Should the page be turned on the past with Iran, based on promises and slogans? This is not right of course.

The Egyptians must be well aware that the idea of a renewed Iranian presence in Egypt comes just as they are voting to choose their new president, and by extension deciding whether Egypt will be a civil or religious-based state. If it is a civil state, Egypt may resume relations with Iran but in accordance with its own interests, but if it is a religious one, will it be thrown into the arms of Iran and the Wali al-Faqih?