In a dramatic policy shift, Egypt will seek to forge “tight” relations with
Hezbollah, Egyptian Ambassador to Lebanon Ashraf Hamdy revealed in a candid
interview published on Saturday in the Beirut-based Daily Star.
cannot discuss politics in Lebanon without having a relationship with
Hezbollah,” Hamdy was quoting as saying, before describing the terrorist group
as a “real force on the ground” with “big political and military
Hamdy announced that Muslim-Brotherhood- dominated Egypt
would begin “stretching [its] hand out in the proper, balanced way to all
regional powers,” including Hezbollah, to forge “tight” contacts with Lebanon’s
Egypt-Hezbollah relations, generally strained under president
Hosni Mubarak, in large part due to Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel, reached
rock bottom in 2008 during Israel’s Cast Lead military operation.
time, Hezbollah leader Hasan Nasrallah called on Egypt, to no avail, to
intervene militarily on behalf of Gaza-based Palestinians.
For its part,
Egypt in the past has accused Hezbollah of operating terrorist cells in the
In his interview, Hamdy denied reports that Hezbollah had sent a
delegation to Egypt to meet with officials from President Mohamed Morsi’s
administration, but confirmed that he personally had met with members of
Hezbollah’s political bureau in efforts “to understand each other
“In discussions we said we want Hezbollah to remain as a
political force in Lebanon,” Hamdy said.
“Resistance in the sense of
defending Lebanese territory... [is] their primary role. We... think that as a
resistance movement they have done a good job to keep on defending Lebanese
territory, and trying to regain land occupied by Israel is legal and
legitimate,” he continued.
Hamdy concluded by saying that while domestic
concerns had slowed Egypt from undertaking new, ambitious foreign policy
objectives, the country ultimately sees itself playing an instrumental role in
“Egypt’s soft power is its strength,” he said. “To expect
180-degree shifts in strong positions take some time.... Egypt will reveal
itself as a real regional power and a ‘doer’ on the regional scene, and we are
keen to show that.”