In recent times, media reports have been abuzz with talks between Iran and Egypt, with some sources suggesting that Iraq has mediated these discussions. However, Iranian officials have repeatedly clarified that the two nations are in contact through the Office of the Protection of Interests. While the level of differences between Iran and Egypt remains relatively unchanged, the shift in the region’s diplomatic climate following the improvement of relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia has spurred the Egyptian government to engage with its regional competitors and seek participation in new regional developments.
The diplomatic reconciliation between Iran and Saudi Arabia has generated a wave of positive developments in the region, prompting other Persian Gulf countries to either resume or bolster relations with Iran. Consequently, news reports now indicate that Egypt, with Iraq’s mediation, is seeking to enhance and restore diplomatic ties with Iran. The two countries, whose relations have been virtually severed since the victory of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, may now be able to forge a cooperative alliance either through mediation or direct interaction.
There are several factors that make Iran and the West Asia and Persian Gulf region significant for Egypt, including economic variables. With a population exceeding 100 million, Egypt’s economy largely relies on services and tourism sectors that have been severely impacted during the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, the country’s industry and agriculture sectors grapple with developmental challenges. Consequently, Egypt is keen on attracting foreign investors and tourists, necessitating the development of relations with Persian Gulf countries, including Iran.
Political and security variables also play a vital role in Iran-Egypt relations. Although the two nations have relatively diverging views on issues such as Palestine and the governing structure of the international system, the agreement between Iran and Saudi Arabia has encouraged Egypt to contemplate strengthening ties with Tehran.
The geopolitical positioning of both countries also holds immense significance. Iran’s unique role in the Persian Gulf, Central Asia, and the Caucasus, combined with Egypt’s unparalleled presence in the Red Sea, the Mediterranean, and North Africa, underlines the critical part both nations play in the Middle East’s security. The spheres of influence and strategic depth of these countries extend well beyond their borders.
The Arab League’s recent decision to invite Syria to rejoin the organization after 12 years also plays a part in the evolving relationship between Iran and Egypt. Egyptian authorities, much like their counterparts in the Arab world, are beginning to recognize their miscalculations concerning Syria’s future and are now seeking to foster ties with the country and its allies, including Iran.
Lastly, the cultural and civilizational components of the Iran-Egypt relationship cannot be ignored. As two history-making and civilization-shaping countries in West Asia and North Africa, Iran and Egypt have long been regarded as cultural superpowers in human history. In the current era, both nations are striving to revive their former civilizational and cultural positions.
In conclusion, the talks between Iran and Egypt signify a new chapter in regional diplomacy and cooperation. Despite their differences, the atmosphere in the region has encouraged both nations to engage with each other and seek opportunities for collaboration. As the two countries take steps towards fostering stronger ties, the Middle East could witness the emergence of a new kind of security order and enhanced cooperation among regional players.