(photo credit: REUTERS)
CAIRO - Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Elaraby on Monday told Iran not to meddle in the internal affairs of Gulf Arab states, saying that Cairo considers the security of fellow Arab countries "a red line", or no-go area.
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Tensions between non-Arab Iran and its Gulf Arab neighbors have risen after Tehran objected to the dispatch of Saudi troops to Bahrain in March to help crush an uprising by mostly Shi'ite Muslims against the kingdom's Sunni rulers, and a spying row.
In excerpts of an interview with al-Arabiya television, broadcast on Monday, Elaraby said he had communicated Egypt's views with "frankness and clarity" on security in the Gulf region to his Iranian counterpart.
"Egypt does not accept the intervention by any state in the internal affairs of another state," Elaraby said.
"For Egypt, the security of the Gulf (region) is an inseparable part of the security of Egypt, and the phrase I used was 'a red line'," he added.
Iran has called on the UN Security Council to protect opposition activists in Bahrain, where, it said, unrest and suppression could destabilize the entire region.
In April, the foreign ministers of the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council, a pro-Western alliance of oil-rich monarchies, "severely condemned Iranian interference in the internal affairs of Bahrain which is in violation of international pacts".
Ties between Egypt, the most populous country in the Arab World, and
Iran were cut after Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution and after Egypt made
peace with Israel the same year. But they have been improving since a
popular uprising toppled Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on Feb. 11.
Gulf Arab states, which had relied on Mubarak's support in their long
stand-offs with Iran, have been alarmed by improved ties between Cairo
and Tehran after the revolution.