Egypt keen to cozy up to Iran, Hizballah

Wednesday, March 30, 2011 |  Ryan Jones

Following a purportedly pro-democracy revolution that many hoped would bring Egypt even closer to the liberal West, the country this week continued its slide in the other direction, into the arms of Islamist regimes.

Egypt’s new foreign minister, Nabil al-Arabi, told reporters in Cairo on Tuesday that he intends to reestablish ties with the regime of Iranian strongman Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his Islamic overseers.

“We will turn over a new leaf with all states, including Iran,” said al-Arabi.

The minister said he was not yet sure if Egypt would be opening an embassy in Tehran anytime soon, but was keen to begin promoting friendly relations with the Islamic Republic.

Asked about Lebanon’s Hizballah terrorist militia, which more or less runs that country, al-Arabi indicated he had no problem with the group, and would not oppose official ties between Hizballah and Egypt.

“Hezbollah is part of Lebanon’s composition, and we see this as an internal matter,” he said. “If any party wishes to have ties with Egypt there will be nothing preventing us from talking.”

Both Iran and Hizballah, which are allies, were firm opponents of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, whom the Islamists saw as too friendly with America, Israel and the West in general.

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