Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Egypt Leaves the Anti-Iran Bloc

By Barry Rubin

Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil el-Arabi said, "The Egyptian government doesn't consider Iran to be an enemy state. We're opening a new page with all countries, including Iran." President Anwar al-Sadat cut relations with Iran in 1979, at the time of the Islamist revolution.

For three decades, Egypt's government has seen Tehran as a threat and a rival on many levels:

--Persian versus Arab.

--Shia versus Sunni.

--A challenge to Egypt's national interest and leading role in the region.

--A destabilizing factor, producing war, terrorism, and revolution in the region.

--In line with Egypt's alliance with the United States--albeit for its own interests--Egypt opposed the spread of Iranian influence.

But now, as I pointed out at the beginning of the revolution, this has all changed. Obviously, Egypt's government has the right to do what it wants in its relations with Iran. But equally obviously this is a big setback for U.S. interests in containing and combatting Iran's power.

The next step will no doubt be Egypt's rapprochement with the Hamas regime in the Gaza Strip.

All of this was completely predictable, but nobody in the U.S. government and very few in the media, saw it coming.

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