What is the main obstacle to improving relations between Tehran and Cairo?

Mohammad Hossein Soltani Fard

Head of Iran’s interests protection office in Cairo


Nowadays, the issue of improving relations between Iran and Egypt is discussed at various political levels and has become the focus of observers and analysts. The latest case in point on such comments could be considered as the Baghdad II Conference held in Amman, the capital of Jordan, and the announcement made by Baghdad regarding its readiness to host a dialogue between Tehran and Cairo.

Abdallah al-Ash’al, former deputy foreign minister of Egypt, who attended the third Tehran Dialogue Forum, introduced the United States and Israel as the main obstacles to warmer relations between Tehran and Cairo.

Yet it seems that relations between the two countries should be looked at and analyzed from another perspective.

Despite all positive indicators and dimensions in the historical relations between the two countries, one issue has cast a shadow on relations between Tehran and Cairo in the past 43 years and is considered the main obstacle to the upgrading of ties between the two important capitals in the continents of Africa and West Asia.

The two countries have no reservations when it comes to the normalization and development of political, economic, security, cultural, tourism and even military relations, and they have plans for each of these agendas. However, it must be acknowledged that the important factor in delaying the improvement of relations between the two countries is the lack of realization and formation of political and security arrangements and structure of the region.

After the Arab Spring in Tunisia, Egypt, Syria, Bahrain and, recently, Yemen and the impact of this movement on the political and security structure of Lebanon and Iraq, the order of the region has faced a deep and serious transformation. This issue has been further complicated with the entry of Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, Turkey and, finally, Israel to the core of this cycle. In other words, all countries in the region are worried about their future.

This concern can be seen in the recent and unexpected meeting of the leaders of the six countries of Egypt, Jordan, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar and the UAE in Abu Dhabi. At this meeting, as the largest and most powerful Arab military force, Egypt described itself as committed and obligated to support and defend the security of the Arab region and Cairo’s military presence on the Yemeni island of Mayun is somehow within this framework.

Therefore, the image that the region has an unknown horizon will persist, naturally, until the realization of the political and security structure of the region. Acceptance of the new order and consolidation of the decision-making powers of the region will not have an exit. Therefore, until the fruition of this road map and the solution of the Palestinian cause, we cannot wait for a miracle in ties between Iran and Egypt, and Saudi Arabia, as well as Morocco, Somalia, Sudan, and Djibouti, and mending relations with Libya.

In addition, from the Arab countries’ perspective, the fate of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and the sphere of influence of the Islamic Republic of Iran must also be determined.

Regardless, a very important and delicate point that is emerging in this road map as the perspective and common interests of the Arab countries and Iran is the entry of China and Russia into the region, right after the U.S. and UK withdrawal from the region, which was addressed in the last three meetings of the Chinese president with the Arab countries.

Meanwhile, the dominant analysis also predicts the victory of Russia in the battle with NATO.