Alwaght- Israeli regime, which has always used tensions among regional countries as a breathing space to break its isolation and advance the normalization with Arab countries, is struck with confusion, concern, and despair about the future now as the regional developments, especially the relations between Iran and Arab countries, are moving to de-escalation.
Having failed to hinder improvement of the relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia, the Israeli officials are now struggling to, at least, put the skids under rejuvenated interactions of other Arab countries with Iran. Egypt is one of the countries that After Tehran-Riyadh détente agreement voiced its readiness to mend ties with Iran, and to this end, meetings were held between the two countries’ officials.
In this regard, Israeli Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper on Wednesday in a report wrote that as Iranian officials are working to prepare the atmosphere for resuming, Israeli envoys secretly visit Cairo to press the Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi about the need to stop mending Tehran-Cairo relations.
The Israeli concerns come as over the past year, tangible progress has been made in revival of Tehran-Cairo relations after a four-decade hiatus. In the latest efforts made in this regard, some sources said that last month, meetings between Iranian and Egyptian officials were held with the mediation of the Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani in Baghdad, during which the possibility of gradual development of bilateral relations between the two countries was discussed. Also, in November, Iran’s head of Department of Environment talked to Egypt’s foreign minister Sameh Shukri on the sidelines of the climate change meeting in Sharm El-Sheikh. Two months ago, the minister of tourism of Egypt announced that as part of the Egyptian government’s campaign to attract more tourists, Cairo will provide new facilitation for Iranian citizens to get tourist visas to Egypt.
A lot of political progress has so far been made between Iran and Egypt. That is what Iran’s Foreign Minister Hussein Amir-Abdollahian confirmed in recent days, hoping for a major improvement of their relations.
“Talks with the Egyptian side are ongoing and relations with Egypt are significant for us,” said Amir-Abdollahian.
Given these interactions, it can be suggested that the two countries have walked much of the way of rapprochement and nothing much is left to an official announcement. This is why the Israelis are rushing to Cairo to prevent this. Security is the driving force behind Tel Aviv’s feeling of danger from Iranian-Egyptian détente.
End of days when Israel was exploiting regional tensions
The Israeli regime, which has based its security on involving the Islamic and Arab countries of the region in internal challenges and conflicts with each other, has always used the atmosphere of tensions between Iran and the Arab states over the past seven decades to secure its borders, and has been successful to some degree.
Now Egypt’s distancing from Israeli regime and moving to Tel Aviv’s rivals under the influence of ongoing regional developments has made the Israelis feel threatened. This Israeli concern is driven by Egypt’s role and historical position in the Arab world, Israeli-Arab, and Palestinian developments.
Under Gamal Abdel Nasser, Egypt was the leader of the Arab world and Arab nationalism against the Israeli occupation. At that time, Abdel Nasser glared as the symbol of the Arab nations and their struggle against the Israeli regime and its Western backers, and since then, Egypt has maintained this image among the Arabs of the region. At present, too, Cairo has a leading role in shaping the Arab world’s policies.
Also large population and proper geographical conditions give Egypt a supreme position in the Arab world, and due to Cairo’s dynamic policy in the Arab League, the country has always been a heavyweight in determination of the bloc’s approaches and policies. On the other hand, in the past century, Egypt has had a great impact on the Arab world, both scientifically and culturally, due to hosting Al-Azhar University, and large number of students from Arab countries have graduated from Egypt.
Egypt was also one of the founders of the ‘Non-Aligned Movement’ during the Cold War, and was always the focus of the Eastern and Western powers that considered it as a balancing factor in their relations in North Africa and West Asia. Also, the proximity of this country to the borders of occupied Palestine, which is the biggest issue and concern of the Muslim world, has put Cairo in the spotlight to play a role in this regional conflict.
Egypt signed Camp David peace deal with the Israeli regime in 1978 and since then walked a path of convergence with Tel Aviv. By doing so, it served Israelis as a political weight, a linking bridge to the Arab world, a catalyst for Israeli-Palestinian talks, and a backer of the resultant deals like Oslo Accords and also Arab peace initiative of 2002.
The Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli officials in the past decade with Iranophobic policy, especially after the start of the Syrian crisis, moved closer to the Arabs, and even some Arab states were driven into the normalization under American duress. But the developments in recent months have not gone according to the Israeli wishes.
After the improvement of relations between the Persian Gulf monarchies and Iran and the subsequent expected development in relations with Jordan and Egypt, the Israeli hands will be cut from exploiting tense conditions. Last year, in the middle of the American and Israeli push to establish a regional coalition against Iran, the Egyptian government said that it would not participate in any military coalition against Tehran, and in the past decade, unlike the Arab monarchies, Cairo has tried to act conservatively in relation to Iran.
If Egypt resumes ties with Iran, security encirclement on the Israeli occupation will be tightened and this can prove dangerous to Tel Aviv at a time the conditions in the occupied territories are highly tense.
Egypt distancing from Tel Aviv
Egypt was the first Arab country that signed a compromise deal with the Israeli regime and to ease the public pressures, it has always worked to bring on board peace with Tel Aviv more Arab countries. Therefore, the Egyptian government has a distinguished role in the Arab-Israeli normalization and, in other words, was the facilitator of Arab-Israeli political relations. But in recent months, due to the Israeli occupation expansion policies and the closeness of the Arabs to Iran, the normalization project has come to a halt, and this is considered a serious threat to Tel Aviv that intended to isolate the Islamic Republic of Iran by forming an alliance with the Arabs but now finds itself trapped in a security encirclement. Therefore, for the Israelis, Egypt’s moving towards Iran means losing a good ally in the Arab world.
Also, over the past four decades, Egypt has played as a buffer zone between terrorist groups and the occupied territories and kept militants in Sinai desert from Israeli borders, and the Israelis appreciate these Egyptian favor. However, the Israelis find Cairo’s distancing from Tel Aviv a threat to their apparently fake borders.
Also, Egypt has always acted as a mediator in the tensions with Palestinian resistance groups, and actually the Israeli leaders take advantage of the Egyptian capacities to protect security of the settlers. But these days, the Egyptian government’s relations with the Israeli regime are strained and Cairo is trying to put pressure on Tel Aviv by expanding cooperation with Iran and in order to force it to withdraw implementation of controversial plans against the Palestinians. Therefore, with the diplomatic agreements between Iran and Saudi Arabia signed, resuming Iranian relations with Cairo is also possible, and a progress in this field depends on eliminating the obstacles and mistrust and creating a suitable atmosphere to remove the tensions of the past, and given the will and serious determination of both sides, this issue is not beyond reach.
Fear of resistance camp’s further boost
Another important issue is that, for the Israelis, Iran’s toehold gain in Egypt will mean boost to the resistance front just next door. Improvement of relations between Iran and Egypt, regardless of diplomatic relations, will pave the way for economic partnership between the two countries, and Iranian companies can invest in Egypt’s economic sector, which has not been doing well in recent years, driven by their expertise and technology. Since Iran is the biggest supporter of Palestine, its powerful political and economic presence in Egypt will cause more interaction among Islamic countries against the occupation, and this issue has been well observable in recent months.
Since Egypt shares border with the Gaza Strip, Tel Aviv is afraid of Tehran-Cairo convergence as it fears Iranian investment around Rafah Border Crossing can contribute to the region’s growth. Since Gaza is under a suffocating siege since 2007, creation of economic advantages in Rafah will liberate the Gazans from security and economic pinch and increase the Iranian and Egyptian aids to the Palestinian enclave. A stronger Gaza resistance will neutralize the Israeli schemes to put pressures on them. By developing their missile and drone capabilities, they have already established an equation of deterrence against Tel Aviv and if they get assistance from Egypt’s soil, they bolster their power and this will foist a heavy price on the Israelis.