Interview with the head of the Office for the Protection of the Interests of Iran in Cairo
On July 4, 2021, ECFA Director, Ambassador Dr. Ezzat Saad, received Mr. Nasser Kanaani, Head of the Office for the Protection of the Interests of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Cairo, along with a member of the office, at his request. Mr. Kanaani referred to a number of points in particular, including the following: that despite his numerous meetings with officials in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs over the past three years, they did not produce the outputs he had hoped for, adding that instead of discussing various aspects of his country’s relations with Egypt in a comprehensive and strategic manner, his efforts and meetings were limited to addressing some of the problems that occur from time to time. And that there is a “great stagnation in Egypt-Iran relations” for reasons they do not understand, and the rate of trade exchange between the two countries has declined from 500 million USD to 250 million USD and then to 10 million USD recently. In addition, at a time when the Iranian side is keen to send routine cables of congratulations to its Egyptian counterpart, whether from executive or parliamentary leaders, there is complete disregard on the part of Egypt in this regard, noting that many congratulatory messages have reached the new Iranian president from many countries, including the United Arab Emirates, the King of Jordan, the Sultan of Oman and the Emir of Kuwait, but they did not receive any messages of congratulations from Egypt.
On the other hand, the guest stated that Iranian-Saudi relations are taking a positive turn, and a constructive dialogue is taking place between the two countries, between Iraq and Oman, where its third round was recently held. He added that despite the differences on many issues, the dialogue is moving forward. He also indicated that the new cabinet formation in Tehran, after President Ebrahim Raisi’s victory, will emphasize the priority of developing relations with neighboring countries, working to settle problems, and developing economic and trade relations, noting that the new President Ebrahim Raisi attaches a high priority to relations with neighboring Arab and Islamic countries, and that he has already started holding dialogue sessions with the reformists in order to crystallize some ideas in this regard.
Mr. Kanaani also declared that Raisi is likely to adopt a stronger and more comprehensive foreign policy, unlike President Hassan Rouhani, “who paid a lot of attention to relations with the United States and the West, believing that improving relations with them would have a positive impact on Iran’s international relations in general.” He added that his country is concerned over the recent developments in the Emirati-Israeli relations, pointing out that they have reached unprecedented levels that represent – from their point of view – a threat and a challenge to the Palestinian cause as the Muslims’ top issue, stressing that they believe that these developments will negatively affect regional balances and encourage Israel to maneuver against the interests of the countries of the region.
Kanaani reiterated the Iran Strategic Council on Foreign Relations’ call for ECFA to hold a roundtable dialogue – either directly or virtually – regarding the various aspects of relations between the two countries and regional and international issues of common interest, noting that the Council is chaired by Mr. Kamal Kharrazi, the former Minister of Foreign Affairs, and works under direct supervision of the Supreme Leader, as an advisory center on foreign affairs.