How Syria is pushing Egypt and Iran closer

By Rohollah Faghihi for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iran Business News.

Once again, Egypt and Iran appear to be heading toward rapprochement, with increasingly converging views on Syria bringing the two regional powers closer together.

Tehran and Cairo have long followed a pattern of enthusiasm about normalizing ties only to see rapprochement remain a mirage. In December 2003, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak held a groundbreaking meeting with his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Khatami on the sidelines of a UN technology summit in Geneva.

The meeting — the first between an Iranian and an Egyptian head of state since the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran — generated talk of rapprochement, but such a thing never occurred. More recently, former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad traveled to Cairo in February 2013, a landmark visit in which he was greeted by his Egyptian counterpart Mohammed Morsi on arrival — but again with no real subsequent warming of relations.

Once very close, Iran and Egypt cut ties in the aftermath of the Islamic Revolution, given Iranian opposition to Egypt and Israel’s signing of the September 1978 Camp David Accords, Cairo’s later hosting of the deposed shah of Iran and the Iranian government’s naming of a street in Tehran after Khalid Islambouli, the man who assassinated Egyptian President Anwar Sadat.

Now, the Syrian crisis may be helping Iran and the Arab world leader finally get closer — and perhaps even lead to their long-sought rapprochement.

Normalization has been impeded by three main limitations on the Egyptian side. These include the US policy of seeking to isolate Iran, which has been weakened since the nuclear deal; Israel’s policy of confrontation with Iran, which has intensified after the signing of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action; and lastly, Saudi Arabia’s policy of seeking to curb Iranian influence, efforts that have been heightened in the aftermath of both the Arab Spring and the nuclear accord.

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