December 18, 2009 Special Dispatch No. 2708

Egypt Warns about Iran's Growing Interference in Arab World

December 18, 2009
Egypt, Iran | Special Dispatch No. 2708

Egypt has lately intensified its criticism of Iran, as reflected in statements by Egyptian officials and articles in the government press warning about Iran's expanding influence and growing interference in the Arab world. In his speech at the opening of the parliament's winter session, President Hosni Mubarak said: "We warn against Iran's interference in Arab affairs. We will not hesitate to take a stance that opposes the attempts to destabilize [Egypt] and protects its national security, which is linked to that of the Gulf and the Red Sea region and to the security of the Middle East at large."[1]

Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmad Abu Al-Gheit called on Iran not to act in the Arab domain, because this is one of the reasons for the instability in the region. He said that Iran's expanding influence is apparent not only in Iraq, Lebano,n and Yemen, but also in the Arab countries of North Africa and the Horn of Africa.[2]

Following are excerpts from articles in the Egyptian press regarding this issue:

Roz Al-Yousef Editor: Iran Is Concentrating Efforts on the Red Sea Region

Roz Al-Yousef editor 'Abdallah Kamal wrote: "All eyes are turned towards Iran's ongoing support of the Houthi rebellion in Yemen, and towards the Iranian ships that unload weapons meant for the Houthis in international waters opposite the port of Assab in Eritrea… Iran wants to maintain a constant [state of] tension in the sea routes of our region, so as to impede trade and the transport of oil and place the Arab countries under a kind of siege. To that end, it instigates unrest and maybe even causes explosions in the Arab countries that oppose it…

"Iran is waging… [several] proxy wars simultaneously, all of them targeting the Arab national security… For many years now, it has been [expanding its sphere of influence] towards the Mediterranean by means of Hizbullah, trying to create what the media and many speakers have called a 'Shi'ite crescent.' It has done this not only through its ties with Hamas in Gaza, but by focusing ever-increasing efforts on the [region's] most volatile [shipping] route, the Red Sea…"

Kamal then listed several armed groups that operate under Iranian sponsorship, including not only the Houthis, Hizbullah, and Hamas but also Jaysh Al-Mahdi in Iraq and Al-Qaeda in Yemen. He adds that Iran also sponsors unarmed organizations like the Shi'ite movements in Bahrain, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, and pilgrims in Mecca in order to "stab various Arab countries in the back, especially those whose policy is at odds with Iran's and forms an obstacle to its expanding influence in the region and its [attempts to] impose its agenda. [Iran's other goals are:] to weaken the Arab states so that they are forced [to deal with] internal tensions instead of fighting the Persian expansion…; to promote the comprehensive Shi'ite plan in the region – especially its political dimension – so that the Shi'ite crescent stretching from the Gulf to Lebanon becomes a ring encircling the Arabian Peninsula…; and to export its Iranian revolution to the region, thereby shattering the stability of the countries while causing the movements supporting Iran to prosper…"[3]

Al-Ahram Editor: Iran Is Striving to Sabotage the Iraq Elections

Osama Saraya, editor of the government daily Al-Ahram, wrote: "Iran has violated the Sunni-Shi'ite agreement to avoid proselytizing in each others' [countries] and to refrain from exploiting hidden sectarian hostility. It has come to the point where Iran is inciting unrest throughout the region, instigating wars, and exhausting the region's countries and harming their residents by exploiting [the tensions] between various Arab sects and groups. Whoever disagrees should take a long look at the arena of operations that has recently emerged in Yemen… and at the [war of] attrition in Iraq, where there is actual fighting, and where Iranian militias are operating in various cities. Iran has the greatest role in the trouble that has beset the Iraqis since the [beginning of] the American occupation…

"Iran is not opposing Israel... It has no qualms about pushing the region to the verge of a limited or total war, because it knows that it is far away [from the danger]. Iran is [also] goading Israel into aggression against the Arabs. It is not interested in diplomatic or peaceful solutions in the region. [In fact], it is even helping Israel sabotage Obama's initiative for peace and for a Palestinian state, because it perceives [this initiative] as a threat to its interests and its future in the region, which it sees as [achievable] only via the death of Arabs and the collapse of their countries… [Its influence] has reached all the Arab states, not only the Gulf and the Red Sea [region], but even the Arab Maghreb…

"We must not forget that the war currently raging in Yemen and parts of Saudi Arabia against the Houthis is being waged with Iranian money and weapons, and that the Lebanese government was only formed with Syria's and Iran's consent, under the constant threat of an Iranian veto [enforced] by means of Hizbullah…

"We must redraw the relations between Iran and the Arabs, and the relations of the Arab and Iranian Shi'ites with the Arab and Iranian Sunnis, for there is need for sincere dialogue between the sides. We cannot possibly pin our hopes on the dialogue conducted by America and Europe with Iran… It is time the Arabs worked together to stop the Iranian interference in their countries and form joint plans to solve their problems…"[4]

In another article, Saraya implied that Iran was behind the recent bombings in Baghdad, which, he said, were aimed at stopping the political process taking place there: "…It is specifically Iran that has an interest in sabotaging the political process in Iraq, in torpedoing America's plans for withdrawal from that country, and in keeping America [from implementing] its more extreme options [for dealing with] the Iranian nuclear crisis. Iran believes that delaying the elections in Iraq is a guaranteed way to delay the American withdrawal and cause the American forces to stay there longer – which would delay any American military move [against Iran]."[5]

Al-Ahram also published this cartoon, which shows Iran lighting the fuse of the bombs in Iraq.[6]

Al-Akhbar Editor: Iran Is the Source of the Palestinians' Problems

The editor of the government daily Al-Akhbar, Muhammad Barakat, pointed to Iranian involvement in all the problems of the Middle East, saying: "[Iran] does not hide its intentions and goals of [gaining] hegemony and control [over the region], now that the Persian state has grown in power, and its ambitions and greed have grown too…

"There has been a clear increase in the Iranian presence in Lebanon and Syria. Wedging its fingers firmly into Lebanon, Iran was able to [pull strings] overtly and in secret... causing civil wars and instigating unrest [in the country]… at the expense of the Lebanese and the other Arab peoples…

"The presence of Iran's fingers is also felt in the Palestinian territories. It is they who are behind the hostility and division that prevail there. These black fingers... are the main cause of all the catastrophes that have befallen the Palestinian people in the recent period. [Iran] was behind the blood-soaked coup in Gaza, in which Hamas overthrew the legitimate Palestinian Authority there, and behind the resulting loss of the Palestinians' rights and the harm to their cause… [Iran] is also the main reason for the delay and the failure of the Palestinians' attempts to reconcile and smooth over their differences…"[7]

Al-Ahram: Iran's Extremism – An Attempt to Escape Its Internal Crisis

An Al-Ahram editorial pointed out that the conflict between Iran and the West could exacerbate the already volatile situation in the Middle East. In addition, it stated: "The countries of the region warn against a possible [military] conflict between Iran and the [Western] powers, and believe that continuing the negotiations is the way to distance the region from the dangers of [such] a conflict…

"The Iranian regime is stubbornly clinging to its extremism in an effort to be seen as a strong regime rather than a regime in the throes of a severe political crisis. Therefore, it is fair to assume that it will persist in its extremism and continue to refuse cooperating with the IAEA. This extremism is its way of prolonging its existence."[8]

[1] Al-Gumhouriyya (Egypt), November 22, 2009.

[2] Al-Siyassa (Kuwait), November 2, 2009.

[3] Roz Al-Yousef (Egypt), November 14, 2009.

[4] Al-Ahram (Egypt), November 27, 2009.

[5] Al-Ahram (Egypt), December 11, 2009.

[6] Al-Ahram (Egypt), December 11, 2009.

[7] Al-Akhbar (Egypt), November 27, 2009.

[8] Al-Ahram (Egypt), December 1, 2009.

Share this Report: