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(photo credit: AP [file])
An axis with "evil goals" that includes Iran, Syria, Qatar and Hamas has attempted to destabilize Egypt and ultimately engineer a coup against the government, the Egyptian daily Al-Ahram alleged on Saturday.
In a strongly worded article, the paper stated that the Hizbullah cell recently uncovered by Egyptian authorities was not only planning to carry out terror attacks in the country, but was also set up as a basis for a larger conspiracy, one that sought to overthrow and replace the Egyptian regime.
The paper pointed fingers at various Arab states and organizations which it claimed were partners to the plot that was "planned years ago", including Iran, Syria, Qatar, Al-Jazeera TV, Hamas and Egypt's outlawed Muslim Brotherhood.
"It was the beginning of a revolution and unrest that was part of a big plot against Egypt that was carefully planned and intentioned to breach security inside the country and to create an atmosphere of chaos and confusion to implement their evil goals," the paper stated.
During Israel's Operation Cast Lead, Egypt was the subject of intense criticism by all of the above states and organizations for not fully opening the Rafah border crossing to Palestinians.
In a fiery speech in January, Hizbullah chief Hassan Nasrallah called on Egyptians to take to the streets and to open the crossing with their bare hands, a call which infuriated Cairo. Based on all the evidence collected by Egyptian security forces following the cell's apprehension, Al-Ahram stated, it was becoming clear that those organizations and nations had conspired against Egypt, using various means to undermine Egyptian rule and create chaos in the country.
The plot began with Hamas's violation of the cease-fire with Israel in December - a move that was dictated by Iran and its allies, the paper said.
"In the period leading up to the Israeli invasion of Gaza, it was decided that Hamas would surprisingly announce it was no longer obligated to the cease-fire, and indeed, [the organization] began firing rockets in a manner no one understood," the article claimed.
Then, when Israel retaliated, members of the 'axis' accused Egypt of having conspired with the US and Israel against Hamas, using Qatar's Al-Jazeera television network to further delegitimize Cairo in the eyes of the Arab world, it continued.
The "media trumpet which abandoned its neutrality as usual" was used to turn the general Egyptian and Arab opinion against Egypt, the paper said.
The paper also claims that Qatar - which the article refers to as a minuscule state - attempted to sabotage Egyptian, Turkish and European efforts in the region by hosting a summit for the "axis" states. It was referring to January's summit in Doha over Operation Cast Lead, which was attended by leaders of hard-line states such as Iran and Syria, and boycotted by Western-backed states such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
The article blamed Iran for its role in aiding Hamas militarily and for "directing the call for Qatar to organize" the Arab summit in Doha. It accused Syria of attacking Egypt through declarations it has made via its officials and the media, and for embracing the Hamas leadership, such as Khaled Mashaal who is based in Damascus.
Finally, the article also lashed out at the Muslim Brotherhood, which it claimed had been planning to exert its influence to organize protests, encourage chaos and bring about a regime change. It also has tried to pressure Cairo into opening the Rafah crossing and agreeing to demands which would bring about the annulment of Egypt's peace accords with Israel and ignite a new war.