[Marxism] Al-Assad should start packing his Hermes luggage

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Tue Feb 5 12:32:50 MST 2013

NY Times February 5, 2013
Iran’s President Visits Egypt, in Sign of Thaw

CAIRO — President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad traveled to Cairo on Tuesday, the 
first visit by an Iranian leader to Egypt since the two countries broke 
off diplomatic relations three decades ago and a barometer of the shifts 
in regional dynamics underway since the start of the Arab uprisings.

Relations between the two countries have warmed since the toppling of 
Egypt’s former president, Hosni Mubarak, who was deeply hostile to 
Iran’s leadership and portrayed himself to his allies, including the 
United States, the Persian Gulf monarchies and Israel, as a bulwark 
against Iranian influence.

Lately, though, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has been 
promoting the idea that the recent Arab revolutions were inspired by the 
Iranian revolution of 1979.

“Egypt is a very important country in the region and the Islamic 
Republic of Iran believes it is one of the heavyweights in the Middle 
East,” Iran’s foreign minister, Ali Akbar Salehi, told the state Islamic 
Republic News Agency in Munich on Tuesday. “We are ready to further 
strengthen ties.”

While the Egypt’s relations with Iran remains limited, the scene on the 
tarmac at the Cairo Airport on Tuesday — Egypt’s new president, Mohamed 
Morsi, greeting Mr. Ahmedinejad warmly in a red-carpet ceremony — would 
have been unimaginable under Mr. Mubarak, and seemed likely to alarm the 
Obama administration.

Mr. Morsi and Mr. Ahmadinejad discussed “developments in the regional 
arena,” including the war in Syria and “means of enhancing relations 
between Egypt and Iran,” according to Egypt’s state news agency. Mr. 
Ahmadinejad is in Egypt for a three-day visit to attend an Islamic summit.

Since becoming president in June as the candidate of the Muslim 
Brotherhood, Mr. Morsi has framed his approach to foreign policy, 
including the thaw with Iran, as an effort to chart a more independent 
course than that of his predecessor and to reassert Egypt’s historical 
regional leadership role. Mr. Morsi has also tried to place Egypt at the 
center of negotiations to end the crisis in Syria.

In August, in another historic first, Mr. Morsi traveled to Tehran for 
the summit of the Nonaligned Movement, a visit that was seen as helping 
to ease Iran’s international isolation.

Analysts say it is unlikely that Egypt and Iran will restore full ties, 
noting the pressure on Mr. Morsi to keep his distance from Iran, 
particularly from the United States and Egypt’s financial benefactors 
among the Persian Gulf monarchies.

During his visit to Tehran in August, Mr. Morsi embarrassed his hosts by 
delivering a stinging condemnation of their close ally, President Bashar 
al-Assad of Syria, to the delight of allies like Qatar and Saudi Arabia. 
In further deference to the Saudis, he omitted mention of the Shiite-led 
uprising against Bahrain’s Sunni monarchy.

On Tuesday, Egypt’s foreign minister sought to deliver further 
reassurances, saying “the security of the Gulf states is the security of 
Egypt,” according the state news agency.

In Cairo, the Iranian foreign minister, Ali Akbar Salehi said on Tuesday 
that the relationship with Egypt was “gradually improving,” according to 
Reuters. “We have to be a little patient,” he said.

Kareem Fahim reported from Cairo and Thomas Erdbrink from Tehran.

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