Iran-Egypt political rift widens

Cairo cancels scheduled visit of Iranian delegation following "hostile statements toward Egypt." (The Media Line)

Mubarak meets Iranian FM (photo credit: )
Mubarak meets Iranian FM
(photo credit: )
Egypt canceled a scheduled visit of an Iranian delegation to Cairo, further escalating a political row between the two nations. Egyptian Parliament Speaker Dr. Ahmad Fathi Surour announced the cancellation of an Iranian visit, which was supposed to be dedicated to the final preparations toward a scheduled conference of the Islamic Parliament's (IP) troika later this week. The IP's troika is comprised of Egypt, which currently holds the parliament's chairmanship, Iran, where the IP headquarters are based, and Indonesia, which will head the next IP session. "The Iranian leader's hostile statements toward Egypt do not allow a serious preparation for conference," said Surour, according to the London-based daily A-Sharq Al-Awsat. Surour was referring to a statement made last week by Ali Akbar Rafsanjani, former Iranian president and head of Iran's Expediency Council, who criticized Egypt for closing its border with the Gaza Strip. "Islamic countries will one day be held accountable for their actions," Rafsanjani was quoted by the Iranian daily Tehran Times. An Iranian diplomat in Cairo also revealed that a two-man Iranian delegation, which was supposed to arrive in Cairo on Monday night for talks regarding the closure on Gaza, has also canceled its trip due to the "atmosphere." The delegation was part of an Iranian-backed move to form a body comprised of Iran, Syria and Indonesia, set to "help remove existing obstacles to the shipment of humanitarian aid to Gaza," according to a report by Iran's official news agency IRNA. These developments will probably lead to the cancellation of the scheduled visit of Iranian Parliament's vice-speaker, Mahmoud Ahmadi, the Iranian diplomat added. Meanwhile, the Hizbullah is following suit and calling on Egypt to open its border crossing with the Gaza Strip "on a permanent basis." "Egypt must take a historic, responsible stance [regarding Gaza], which will make the entire [Islamic] nation stand by it," Hizbullah Chief Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah said on Monday. Nasrallah called for a rally in Beirut next Friday in support of Gaza residents. The Iranian-backed leader has also called for constant demonstrations across Lebanon until the end of the closure of Gaza.