Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, a London-based, Qatari-funded news website, cited high-ranking Iraqi officials on Friday as saying that officials from Iran and Egypt have met during the past month to restore diplomatic relations that severed in 1979, immediately after Egypt recognized the Israeli regime.
Two Iraqi officials, one from the Iraqi Foreign Ministry and another from the Iraqi National Security Council, provided Al-Araby Al-Jadeed with similar information about the meeting between the representatives of Egypt and Iran in Baghdad with the mediation of Iraq.
The two Iraqi officials explained that both Egyptian and Iranian officials insisted that the nature of the meeting would not be officially announced. This is while Egyptian diplomatic sources told the news outlet that during the last week of March, talks were held between Egyptian and Iranian security officials, and the two sides discussed the possibility of gradually developing bilateral relations to the next stage.
According to the information provided by the two Iraqi officials to Al-Araby Al-Jadid, the meeting was held at a low level between the two sides last month with the presence of a representative from the office of Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammad Shia al-Sudani, Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein, and Iraq’s national security adviser. The sources added that it is expected that a similar meeting will be held between the parties.
Following the Egyptian Revolution of 2011 and the appointment of ambassadors after nearly 30 years, former Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi made a historic first visit to Iran since the Iranian Revolution to participate in the Non-Aligned Movement summit on August 30, 2012, where Egypt handed over the rotating presidency to Iran. Iran’s then-president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad also visited Egypt in February 2013, making him the first Iranian president to travel to Egypt since the Iranian Revolution.
Yet, ties were cut again in 2015, when Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi stated that Egypt has no relations with Iran on the Egyptian Extra News channel.
Later, regional countries put forward initiatives to mend Tehran-Cairo relations. In December 2022, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said that Iraq has put forward a proposal for holding talks between Tehran and Cairo at political and security levels to restore relations between the two countries.
The senior diplomat made the remarks in an interview with Iran’s Mizan news agency. Amir-Abdollahian said the proposal was made by Iraqi Prime Minister al-Sudani, whom he met on the sidelines of a regional conference held in the Jordanian capital of Amman. The foreign minister said he welcomed the Iraqi prime minister’s idea, adding that actions will be taken by al-Sudani in the upcoming weeks in order to facilitate such talks.
In an exclusive interview with Iran Daily, a European diplomat familiar with Middle East affairs said: “In general, we can assume that the Iran-Saudi reconciliation process — which did not come overnight, but, as is known, was the result of different series of talks — has prepared the ground for a more ambitious regional normalization, in which the relationship between Tehran and Cairo assume a strong relevance.”
“I believe the two processes are unrelated but behind the scenes, the overall regional scenario (i.e. the dynamics concerning Syria, Jordan, and the Persian Gulf in general) has been prepared for a more ambitious agenda. Many obstacles in the dialogue with Cairo have already been overcome during last years, and the Iraqi mediation can eventually contribute, giving it the final push to get to the finish line,” the diplomat added.
The diplomat seemed to believe that “in case the talks will get to the finish line, many problems in the region will be solved.” Yet, the diplomat remained skeptical of the sustainability of the normalization process.
“However, it would be naive to believe that this will be the end of the story as there are many spoilers ready to sabotage the process, as has been the case many times in the past. The overall normalization process would be sustainable only if the parties engage each other in keeping the process alive. It will not be easy. For sure, progress in the nuclear talks would eventually give a big boost to the process,” the diplomat concluded.