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Iran and Egypt: Reset in relations or continuation of the calm?

29 August 2012 [10:01] - TODAY.AZ
The Non-Aligned Movement summit opened in the Iranian capital. Among some 50 heads of state from around the world who will visit Tehran, will also be the new president of Egypt Mohammed Morsi.

Relations of Egypt and Iran which cooperated before the overthrow of the Shah's regime in the Islamic republic, have deteriorated sharply after the Islamist government came to power Iran and cooperation between Israel and Egypt began.

Recently, however, after the overthrow of Mubarak in Egypt, who, as is known, was the closest ally of the West and the only partner of Israel in the Middle East arena, Iran decided to change its policy towards Egypt and take advantage of the situation.

Iran interpreted the coming to power of the pro-Islamic-minded Mohammed Morsi as a signal for the normalization of Iranian-Egyptian relations.

As a result, Iranian officials have expressed support for Morsi and expressed their desire to establish diplomatic relations with Cairo.

Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi expressed his country's readiness to send an ambassador to Egypt and to strengthen economic relations and to open direct flights between Tehran and Cairo.

Amid Iran's interest to improve relations with Egypt, Cairo has long taken a more passive position and did not show any interest. Iranian Foreign Minister Salehi in one of his speeches said that if he receives an invitation to visit Egypt, he will be pleased to take advantage of it. No response from the Egyptian side followed.

Iranian interests in improving ties with Egypt are understandable. The country, which is under pressure from Western sanctions and attempts to relieve the anti-Iranian front in the region and the world, sees in Egypt a unique chance to implement its interests.

Another question is whether Cairo is interested in such cooperation with Tehran. By strengthening the partnership with Iran, Egypt, somewhere may lose the trust and support of Saudi Arabia and the West and Iran will not be able to compensate for this support.

After this visit, it is not worth hoping for fundamental change in the relations and partnership in the region, as Morsi, who from the first day of his presidency, defined priority partners, that is, Saudi Arabia and the Arab Gulf countries, is unlikely to be interested in expanding relations with Iran, which is an explicit opponent of Riyadh.
Earlier, he stated that Cairo will remain faithful to all previously signed agreements, including the Camp David agreement with Israel. This obviously means that Iran will not be able to claim to be Egypt's new regional ally and to gain support of Cairo.

Regarding the economic relations, there may be promising development prospects. Thus, according to the Egyptian Ministry of Economy, the countries had little economic cooperation before the change of power in Egypt. The trade turnover between the countries in a period of stagnation was $100 million a year, while Iran's investments in Egypt - $ 360 million.

There is also a joint Egyptian-Iranian development bank with a center in Egypt and controlled by the Egyptian Central Bank. Iran's and Egypt's equity participation in the bank is 40 and 60 percent respectively. The bank has a representative office in Iran.
Taking into account that even in the period of complete lack of diplomatic and political relations between the countries, Cairo and Tehran had at least some economic ties. One can assume that after the thaw in Iranian-Egyptian relations, economic cooperation can greatly intensify.

The countries have common areas of cooperation, such as power engineering, food industry and pharmaceutics. There is a reason to say that the mutual investments and trade turnover between the countries can be significantly increased. Tourism will be another sphere of developing economic relations. Egypt was a place of pilgrimage for the Iranian religious tourists at all times, as the country has a lot of Shiite shrines. Direct flights between the two countries will increase the flow of tourists and entrepreneurs from both countries.

According to the above-mentioned words, one must not expect a radical change in the relations between Egypt and Iran in political partnership, whereas a period of prosperity may occur in the economic relations of the two countries.


Aygul Taghiyeva /Trend/
URL: http://www.today.az/news/regions/111691.html

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