News / Middle East

Iranian President Makes Landmark Visit to Egypt

Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi pose for photographers in Cairo, Egypt, February 5, 2013. (Egyptian Presidency Handout)
Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi pose for photographers in Cairo, Egypt, February 5, 2013. (Egyptian Presidency Handout)
Elizabeth Arrott
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is in Cairo, the first leader of the Islamic Republic to visit Egypt since the countries broke relations more than 30 years ago. Ahmadinejad embraced fellow Islamist, Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, upon his arrival.

The Iranian leader is in the capital for a summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, but warming relations between Egypt and Iran dominated the first day of the trip.

"I will try to pave the ground for developing cooperation between Iran and Egypt," Ahmadinejad was quoted as saying before the trip by Iranian state media.

Still, Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb told Ahmadinejad that his Shi'ite-led government must refrain from interfering in the affairs of Gulf Arab states and must give full rights to Sunnis living in Iran. He also urged Ahmadinejad to "respect Bahrain as a sisterly Arab state" and rejected "the spread of Shi'ism" in Sunni countries.
 
While Shi'ite-led Iran does not have full diplomatic ties with Egypt, broken in 1980 over Iran's revolution and Egypt's recognition of Israel, the visit pushes the nations closer in that direction.

  • Leaders of nations taking part in the Organization of Islamic Cooperation's two-day summit, which brings together leaders from across the Muslim world, pose for a group photograph in Cairo, February 6, 2013.
  • Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi listens to his Foreign Minister Mohammed Kamel Amr during the opening of the 12th summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Cairo, Egypt, February 6, 2013.
  • Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan, surrounded by security and members of his delegation at the 12th summit of the OIC, February 6, 2013.
  • Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi greets Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad before the opening OIC summit in Cairo, February 6, 2013.
  • Afghan President Hamid Karzai attends the Organization of Islamic Cooperation summit in Cairo, February 6, 2013.
  • Iran's Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi (2nd R) talks with other attendees before the start of the OIC summit in Cairo February 6, 2013.
  • Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad attends the OIC summit in Cairo, February 6, 2013.
  • A man holds a sign in Arabic reading, "(Ahmedinejad) You are not welcome in Egypt", in front of the al-Azhar mosque during Ahmedinejad's visit in Cairo, February 5, 2013.
  • Photographers take pictures of Saudi Crown Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud (R) before the start of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation summit in Cairo, February 6, 2013.
  • Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi participate in an arrival ceremony at the airport in Cairo, Egypt, February 5, 2013. (Egyptian Presidency Handout)

Israel remains a factor in relations.

On the eve of his trip, Ahmadinejad told Lebanon's al- Mayadeen TV that “the political geography of the region will change” if Egypt and Iran take a unified stance on the Palestinian question.

Morsi's background as a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood has translated to close ties with the Iranian-backed Palestinian faction Hamas.  But Egypt's new government says it will abide by its peace treaty with Israel.

Syria

More immediately divisive is the question of Syria. Morsi used a breakthrough visit to Tehran last year to castigate Iranian leaders for backing the Syrian government.

Iran has supported popular uprisings in Egypt, Libya and Bahrain, for example, but has come down strongly in favor of the Syrian status quo - a government led by Alawites, a Shi'ite offshoot.

Despite the differences, some political observers believe Iran is keen to nurture ties with Egyptian Islamists to act as a regional counterweight to Tehran's rivals in the Sunni-led Arab states of the Gulf.

"Iran has tried, by getting closer to Egypt, to eliminate the Gulf and to give a much more regional role to Egypt and, in this way, they supported the Muslim Brotherhood leadership,” said Abdulaziz Sager, the head of the Saudi-based Gulf Research Center.

Still, Egypt has practical concerns, including monetary support from the Gulf in the form of direct aid and emigrant workers' remittances.

It also is trying to keep relations on course with the United States, another source of aid and the driving force to isolate Iran over its nuclear program.

Political observers say such thorny issues mean that while cooperation between Egypt and Iran may be on the rise, full relations appear still a ways off.

VOA wire services contributed to this report.

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: ali baba from: new york
February 05, 2013 9:59 AM
Birds from the same feather flock together..Is the united state senator understand the danger of Muslim fanatic?. senator Paul want to stop sending weapon to Egypt, ,His resolution did not pass. .most of the senator are lawyer and all their knowledge are (it does not fit has to quit) . Now it will be cooperation between Iran and Egypt. Egypt want money by any means necessary and they looking for partner to advocate the Islamic empire which moersi believe is only way to feed 90 million Egyptian . the Islamic empire will trigger the third world war which return the planet earth to stone age

by: Dr. Assum Maktawi from: Egypt
February 05, 2013 8:19 AM
i dont think Egyptians appreciate this Iranian buffoon. he is generally regarded as a joke or worse - a comic relief...

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs