The following excerpts are from an interview with Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmad Abu Al-Gheit, which aired on Egyptian Channel 1 on April 11, 2010.
Interviewer: Let me ask you the question of the man on the street: What's wrong with Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon? It is an Islamic country, a neighbor of the Arabs, and its capabilities are directed against the enemies of the Arabs and the Muslims. How would Egypt be harmed by Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon?
Ahmad Abu Al-Gheit: We have forgotten history.
Interviewer: What do you mean?
Ahmad Abu Al-Gheit: Iran is a Persian power, not an Arab one. It has designs and interests in the Gulf, where it occupies Arab islands. It exerts its influence in Iraq, and in the past, it fought a war against Iraq.
An Iranian nuclear power entails a threat of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East. Therefore, we will not go along with this. We want Iran to refrain from forcing the Arabs to engage in a [nuclear arms] race with it. We should take into consideration – and don't forget this, because some do – that Iran aspires to influence the region in ways that do not coincide with the Arabs' priorities and interests.
When we witness the Iranian influence in Iraq, we should be wary. Iraq is an Arab country. When we witness the Iranian influence in a country like Lebanon, we should say to our Lebanese brothers that Arab identity should take precedence over religious affiliation. When we witness [Iranian] influence across the Egyptian border, in the form of helping Hamas to confront Israel, not in order to liberate either Gaza or the West Bank, but in order to send Israel the message: We can reach you...
We in Egypt are not familiar with the division into Sunnis and Shiites. I have been a diplomat for 45 years, since 1965. Never in my life did I ask an Iraqi official, diplomat, or minister whether he was Shiite or Sunni.