“Major countries may offer Egypt more foreign aid to keep it from aligning with Iran”

Posted on September 11, 2012

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Iran is incapable of keeping the Egyptian economy afloat, American Enterprise Institute Research Fellow Ali Alfoneh said.

Egyptian Al-Ahram newspaper cited country’s Oil Minister Osama Kamal that Egypt has “no objection” towards bying and refining Iranian oil.

“Having no objections in practice means that Egypt desires Iranian oil for free,” Alfoneh said. “This is an offer that diplomatically isolated Tehran may take in exchange for pro-Iranian rally in Cairo.”

The expert added that the statement of Egyptian minister can be seen in Egypt’s long tradition of playing great powers against each other in order to extract concessions from them all.

“During the Cold War, Egypt managed to attract foreign aid from both super powers, and is now trying to take advantage of Iran, Iran’s Arab neighbors and the United States,” Alfoneh said.

Over a year ago, after first pledging to help Egypt’s failing economy, the Obama administration is nearing an agreement with the country’s new government to relieve $1 billion of its debt as part of an American and international assistance package intended to bolster its transition to democracy, administration officials said, NY Times reported on Sept. 3.

Egyptian minister, as quoted by the Al-Ahram newspaper, said he believed that President Mohamed Mursi’s recent visit to Iran would open doors for economic cooperation between the two countries.

Egypt’s president Mursi has participated at the 16th NAM (Non-Aligned Movement) summit in Tehran about a week ago. He was the fist Egyptian president since 1979 who visited the Islamic Republic.

Alfoneh also noted that simultaneously Egyptian minister’s statement is a a signal to Arab rivals of the Islamic Republic such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar, and of course the United States that Egypt could align with Iran.

“Fearing spread of Iranian influence to North Africa, these countries may increase foreign aid to Egypt in order to keep Egypt away from Tehran,” he concluded.

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