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WASHINGTON – Since the ouster of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak two years ago, Egypt, especially under the recently elected Muslim Brotherhood-backed Mohamed Morsi, has inched ever closer to Iran, according to a report in Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.
In fact, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is to visit Cairo shortly, the first such official visit by an Iranian official since the 1979 Iranian revolution.
Ever since Morsi came to power, the country has been in varying degrees of public demonstrations and violence, to the point that his government may no longer be able to function and could prompt the military to stage a coup.
In spite of domestic instability, Morsi has sought to pave an independent foreign policy course to reassert Egypt’s role in the region just as Turkey is trying to do the same thing.
Morsi recently visited Iran to attend a conference of the Non-Aligned Movement countries. This opened up the door for improved Cairo-Tehran relations, despite Iran’s backing of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whom Morsi opposes. Yet, he has signaled that he also will improve ties with the Iranian-backed Hezbollah which is based in Lebanon.
“Lost amid the caustic rhetoric and heated street battles are indications that a significant shift is afoot related to Egypt’s foreign policy toward Hezbollah in Lebanon,” according to Chris Zambelis of the Washington-based think tank Jamestown Foundation.
Morsi’s independent course is at variance with the policy approach of Mubarak, who worked in virtual lockstep with the United States in foreign policy and helped maintain a strategic balance in the region that helped assure Israel’s security.
Part of the anger toward Mubarak was from following the U.S.-Israeli policy of preserving Israel’s occupation of some Middle East land and the 1978 Camp David accords that led to the 1979 peace treaty between Egypt and Israel.
According to Zambelis, this approach was seen as coming at the expense of Egyptian, pan-Arab and Islamic interests.
In so doing, Mubarak opposed Hezbollah and anything Iranian, including Hamas in the neighboring Gaza Strip, which even now continues to receive Iranian financial help despite its own split with Tehran over support for the al-Assad regime in Syria.
Now, Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood political party, the Freedom and Justice Party, or FJP, wants to reassess Egypt’s foreign policy approach, including restoring Egypt’s prestige as an influential player in regional and international affairs and as an advocate for Palestinian self-determination.
Last December, Egyptian ambassador to Lebanon Ashraf Hamdy initially had signaled the desire by Cairo to work with Hezbollah, which regards itself as the Resistance against any Israeli effort to attack Lebanon.
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