Egypt Under Pressure Not to Engage With Iran
The former head of Iran's Interests Section in Egypt said the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia exert great pressure on Egypt not to engage in any kind of cooperation or interaction with Iran.
"Egypt will not bow to such pressure, as on several occasions the government has proved that its decisions concerning Iran are not totally swayed by the wishes of the three countries," Mojtaba Amani told Fars News Agency in a recent interview.
"Cairo has even been put under retaliatory political and economic pressure for that from time to time," he said. Amani pointed to conflicts between the two countries that, although rooted in the past events, can be naturally resolved through political negotiations.
Iran-Egypt relations have been strained after the 1979 Islamic Revolution, as Iran broke off ties with Egypt after Cairo granted asylum to Iran's ousted dictator, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, and also due to its 1978 Camp David Accords with the Israeli regime.
Bilateral relations, however, have been on the mend following the 2011 revolution in Egypt, which resulted in the expulsion of former president Hosni Mubarak, though a set of ups and downs have always been in the way.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said in December 2016 that his country engages in consultations with Iran to promote security and the interests of Arab nations, hoping that relations will develop mutually, in line with the interests of the two countries and the region.
Stressing the importance and role of Tehran and Cairo in the Middle East equations, Amani said Iran and Egypt are two great civilizations and their ties benefit both countries and the whole region.
Referring to Saudi intrusions, the former head of Iran's Interests Section in Egypt noted that "due to the failure of Arab countries after the latest revolutions, Saudi Arabia, not tolerating cooperation between Middle East powers and Iran, has invested a great deal of effort to undermine such ties."
He also denounced "Saudis' interference in regional policies" as being degrading to the Egyptians.
"Egyptians can never be deemed as followers of Saudi Arabia's policies because they are a nation of great history, civilization, politics and military, while Saudi Arabia lacks those features," he said.
Stressing that "a strategic relationship between Cairo and Riyadh can never be achieved", he noted that Egyptians have never had good ties with Saudis, such as the mistreatment of Egyptian laborers working in the Arab kingdom.
Amani concluded by calling on Egyptians not to change their stance toward other states for the sake of Saudis' interests.
"The two countries [Saudi Arabia and Egypt] have always had contradictory ideas over regional policies and sometimes indirectly went into bitter conflicts," he said. In October 2016, Egypt voted in favor of a Russian-backed UN resolution on Syria that excluded calls to stop bombing Aleppo, which Saudi Arabia strongly opposed.
Consequently, the kingdom informed Egypt that shipments of oil products expected under a $23 billion aid deal had been halted indefinitely, according to Reuters.