Ali Najat – writer and academic researcher, specializing in Middle East affairs
Iran-Egypt relations have experienced many complications and fluctuations over the past decades, with patterns ranging from cooperation, competition, and conflict, sometimes to the point of complete diplomatic estrangement according to internal, regional, and international events that determine the type of relations between these two regional powers. Diplomatic relations between Iran and Egypt have been severed for the last time since the victory of the Iranian Islamic Revolution, the signing of the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel, and Cairo’s reception of the former Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, whom the authorities of the Islamic Revolution were demanding for his retrial.
Now, more than four decades have passed since diplomatic relations between Iran and Egypt were interrupted. In this long period, Iran’s political relations with many Arab countries, such as Iraq and Saudi Arabia, have resumed, despite deep political and ideological challenges, but Egypt is one of the few countries with which Iran has been unable to restore relations despite numerous efforts to bridge the line and resume diplomatic relations. Over the past two decades, there have been numerous attempts to bring the two countries closer together and return relations to normal course, but these have not been successful; due to many local, regional, and international factors.
In the past decade, Iran has repeatedly expressed interest in expanding relations with Egypt and has tried to move stagnant waters between the two countries and send positive signals to Cairo in line with the implementation of the policy of developing relations with the countries of the region, However, these signals have not yet reached a clear conclusion in terms of expanding the political relations between the two countries in full and promoting diplomatic representation at the embassy level. and relations between the two countries remain at the level of the Office of Interests. In other words, despite the positive signs, Egypt and Iran did not engage in a declared political dialogue, and even meetings between officials of the two countries were held in private and the two countries did not want to reveal them. This leads us to talk about the structural constraints inherent in the relations between the two countries that have kept them severed since 1979, even though Iran’s relations with its neighborhood have been positive. There are many factors and variables at the three local, regional, and international levels that have complicated and impeded the normalization of Iran-Egypt relations in the past four decades. This analytical paper seeks to answer three fundamental questions: First: What have been the trends in Iran-Egypt relations in the past four decades? Second: What are the motivations and incentives for Iran and Egypt to resume relations? And third: Why are Iran-Egypt political relations still severed, and what are the obstacles to the resumption of Tehran-Cairo political relations?