The recent, China-mediated agreement between Iran and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) has sparked heated political debate and speculation. Some people are in favor of putting the agreement into action, but others are still skeptical.
Concerns about Iran’s nuclear program must be addressed urgently from a geopolitical perspective. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the nations of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), and the entire international community as a whole cannot ignore the potential threat posed by Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
Concerns have been raised regarding the potential limitations of US airstrikes in effectively neutralizing this threat in light of recent revelations regarding Iran’s subterranean nuclear facility. These revelations have also highlighted the country’s commitment to advancing its nuclear capabilities.
Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons will only become a more pressing geopolitical issue in the future as regional and global concerns grow. In light of Iran’s recent establishment of an underground nuclear facility, the Chief of Israel’s Armed Forces has suggested that a military intervention might be necessary.
Israel and the Arab nations must work together politically to the fullest extent possible in any potential military intervention against Iran. In light of the recent support for Iran from China and Russia, failure to do so may result in unprecedented regional conflicts. Conversely, supporters of the Saudi-Iranian agreement point to a number of significant advantages.
The development of peaceful relationships between the two antagonistic powers in the region must be our top priority. The ongoing conflict in Yemen’s de-escalation will undoubtedly benefit from this. In addition, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will be able to effectively allocate its resources toward achieving its economic development and Vision 2030 objectives, which are heavily dependent on regional stability. In addition, KSA’s growing diplomatic influence in the region will undoubtedly grow if the agreement is successful.
This can be seen in the recent political developments in the Arab League, particularly the readmission of Syria, a nation that has been suspended for a decade and has strong support from Russia and Iran. Additionally, a significant event has been the official reception of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Jeddah during the Saudi-hosted summit.
The new rapprochement among Egypt and Iran is by all accounts only one part of a more extensive arrangement of determined and geopolitically organized moves led by KSA. Regarding this subject, a member of Iran’s parliament’s national security and foreign policy committee, Fada-Hossein Maleki, confirmed in an interview that discussions aimed at strengthening the relationship between Egypt and Iran are taking place “regularly” in Iraq.
Maleki’s most recent statement is in line with Hossein Amir Abdollahian, Iran’s foreign minister, who has previously stated that Iran is eager to strengthen diplomatic ties with Cairo. Regarding this topic, it has been reported that diplomatic and intelligence officials from Egypt and Iran met in Baghdad, Iraq, in the early days of March to discuss the possibility of normalizing relations and determining whether or not a summit between the leaders of the two countries is possible.
Recent reports suggest that Egypt and Iran will soon establish ambassadorial relations within the next few months, indicating that the diplomatic negotiations appear to be moving forward. In addition, the statements made by the spokesperson for the Iranian Foreign Ministry, in which he emphasized that “the Middle East needs Iran and Egypt,” demonstrate Iran’s desire to establish amicable ties with Arab nations that go beyond a simple agreement with Saudi Arabia.
There have been few diplomatic ties between Iran and Egypt in the thirty years since the Islamic revolution in Iran, with little to no communication between the two countries. This has been ascribed to different elements. The primary factor that contributed to the strained diplomatic ties between the two nations was, without a doubt, their distinct geopolitical positions and international strategies. In Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Yemen, Iran has repeatedly been accused of supporting terrorist activities and proxy militias. In addition, Iran has been aggressively attempting to expand its influence throughout the Middle East, focusing particularly on undermining Saudi Arabia’s stability and power.
Egypt cannot and will not tolerate this situation. Furthermore, Iran and Egypt’s divergent religious beliefs have contributed to the escalation of geopolitical tensions. Shia Muslims make up the majority in Iran, while Sunni Muslims make up the majority in most Arab nations and Egypt. Conflicts over the interpretation of Islamic doctrine and the role of religious leadership have arisen between Egypt, home to Al-Azhar, and Saudi Arabia, home to the two Holy Mosques.
Iran’s reluctance to fully acknowledge Egypt’s religious legitimacy stems from the fact that Iran, a nation dominated by Shia, has never fully acknowledged the Sunni religious leadership of Egypt. Tensions between Egypt and Iran have also increased as a result of their divergent political and ideological positions. Egypt’s leadership and ties to the United States were questioned following Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution, which established a theocratic government.
In addition, the Egyptian government has voiced its disapproval of Iran’s efforts to spread anti-Israel sentiment and aid extremist groups that have attacked Israel, with which Egypt has maintained a peaceful relationship since 1979.
Despite the significant differences between the two nations, the urgent question of what obstacles prevent Egypt from establishing friendly relations with Iran arises in the complex geopolitical landscape. Egypt has chosen to maintain a certain degree of political distance from Iran, primarily due to the latter’s perceived aggressive stance toward the GCC, as can be seen. It is reasonable to anticipate that Egypt, a crucial ally of KSA, will also pursue the establishment of diplomatic relations with Iran in pursuit of its own strategic objectives, given KSA’s current leadership in the peace and normalization efforts with Iran.
It is essential to acknowledge that, despite their divergent political ideologies, Egypt and Iran have both provided support to the President al-Assad-led Syrian government over the past ten years. This took place at a time when the majority of the countries in the GCC were against the al-Assad regime. As a result, Egypt gains a strategic advantage to speed up the reconciliation process with Iran; especially in light of Syria’s recent admission back into the Arab League and President al-Assad’s warm welcome in Jeddah last week.
Egypt and the Gulf Cooperation Council appear to be working together on a larger and more coordinated project, as evidenced by the diplomatic negotiations between Iran and Egypt regarding normalization. Oman’s recent visit to Cairo by Sultan Haitham Bin Tariq has sparked speculation that it may be acting as a crucial mediator between Tehran and Cairo. It is widely believed that a significant portion of the discussions centered on Iranian developments in the region, despite the fact that the official announcement of the visit to Cairo was focused on strengthening economic ties between Egypt and Oman.
Additionally, the fact that the visit occurred just a few days after the Arab League summit in Jeddah, at which the majority of Arab leaders were present, gives it significance. Oman’s official announcement that Sultan Haitham will soon embark on a diplomatic mission to Iran has greater geopolitical ramifications. There has been a lot of praise for Oman’s political strategy of using subtle diplomacy and successfully resolving conflicts in the region. Oman’s efforts to mediate between the KSA and the Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen have had significant political repercussions.
The calculated geopolitical maneuver of Egypt’s rapprochement with Iran is likely coordinated with the KSA and GCC for the sake of their collective strategic interests. Egypt, on the other hand, stands to gain a significant strategic advantage from this reconciliation. First and foremost, it is generally acknowledged that Iran has significant political and military influence over a number of armed groups in the Gaza Strip, particularly Hamas.
Egypt must play a crucial role in assisting Hamas and Israel in resolving their conflict because Egypt and Israel share the primary borders of Gaza. Egypt’s strategic objectives on multiple fronts could be bolstered by strengthening ties with Iran, which could give Egypt greater political influence and authority over various Gaza-based militant groups.
Egypt’s significant influence on the prospects for peace between Israel and Palestine must be taken into account on the geopolitical front. In the meantime, Egypt’s domestic security in the Northern Sinai region requires immediate attention due to alleged collaboration between Sinai-based terrorist groups and Gaza-based armed groups over the past decade. Additionally, Egypt will be able to strategically realign its regional foreign policy more in line with Saudi Arabia’s, making it easier for Egypt and Saudi Arabia to constructively form a united political front.
Thirdly, Egypt may gain unprecedented diplomatic and political clout on the international stage if it establishes strong diplomatic ties with Iran. Western nations currently hold a significant amount of skepticism regarding Iran’s intentions. However, these worries could be alleviated by fostering a more cooperative partnership between Iran and Egypt.
Egypt would then be able to play a crucial role in helping Iran and the international community reach an agreement on unresolved issues like Iran’s nuclear program and support for regional proxy militias. In addition to strengthening political ties between Iran and Egypt, which has the strategic acumen to navigate the complex geopolitical terrain of the region, establishing a strong diplomatic relationship with Iran would also foster closer alliances with other nations seeking a dependable Middle Eastern partner.
It is possible that Egypt’s decision to normalize relations with Iran is part of a larger strategy aimed at expanding China’s political influence in the Middle East, given China’s recent diplomatic efforts to broker an agreement between Saudi Arabia and Iran.
Additionally, this move may act as a financial incentive for other nations to engage China. It is essential to note that Egypt, an economy-challenged nation, has joined the BRICS New Development Bank (NDP) alongside the United Arab Emirates, a significant step. In addition, Egypt’s recent membership in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization is noteworthy and has significant geopolitical ramifications.
While acknowledging the potential economic and geopolitical advantages of a reconciliation between Egypt and Iran, it is essential to acknowledge that this issue presents Egypt with a significant challenge as a result of a number of factors. In this regard, Iran’s nuclear program and capabilities for developing ballistic missiles must be addressed because they pose a significant threat to Arab nations’ security. To ensure the region’s safety and stability, it is essential to obtain Iran’s assurances.
Reports indicate that Iran has successfully launched a test launch of a ballistic missile with a potential range of up to 2000 kilometers, giving it the ability to expand its influence throughout the Middle East, including Israel, despite ongoing reconciliation talks between Iran and various Arab nations.
The development of a strong rapport with Iran has the potential to create geopolitical tensions, so the potential strain on the strategic alliance between the United States and Egypt is one of the most pressing issues at hand. When navigating this complex political landscape, it is essential to keep in mind the long-standing partnership that exists between Egypt and the United States.
Regarding the latter, Egypt and Israel have had a peace agreement in place since 1979, and over the years, Egypt and Israel have developed strong diplomatic and security ties. Iran’s development of ballistic missiles and nuclear capabilities has fueled the long-standing animosity between the two countries, leading Israel to view Iran as its primary adversary over the past ten years.
Egypt now faces the geopolitical dilemma of finding a way to strike a balance between maintaining strategic ties with Israel and cultivating friendly relationships with Iran. The impact of a possible shift in US policy toward Iran under a new administration on the prospects of reconciliation between Iran and Arab nations remains to be determined in light of the upcoming US elections.