Egypt hopes Iran deal will bring stability to Mideast
search

Egypt hopes Iran deal will bring stability to Mideast

Cairo praises framework agreement as step in the right direction; Saudi Arabia, Syria also back accord

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi looks on during the Arab League summit at the Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh on March 29, 2015. (AFP/ MOHAMED EL-SHAHED)
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi looks on during the Arab League summit at the Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh on March 29, 2015. (AFP/ MOHAMED EL-SHAHED)

Egypt on Friday welcomed the framework nuclear agreement between Iran and the world powers reached a day earlier in Switzerland, saying it hoped the deal would bring stability to the Middle East and prevent an arms race.

A statement by the Egyptian Foreign Ministry said the framework agreement was a step in the right direction toward a final deal in June, according to Reuters.

Relations between Cairo and Tehran have been cool, as Egypt, a Western-backed, Sunni country allied with Saudi Arabia, has watched nervously as Iran seeks to establish itself as a regional superpower. Ties briefly warmed under ousted Islamist president Mohammed Morsi — who is accused by Egyptian prosecutors of leaking state secrets to Iran — but cooled again when Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi took power in 2013.

Syria also praised the nuclear agreement, declaring the deal was the product of the Islamic Republic’s wish to reduce tensions with the international community.

“Syria welcomes the statement issued on the discussions,” state television quoted a foreign ministry source as saying, according to Reuters.

“[Syria] considers that this framework agreement will be followed by positive steps and will be another contribution by Iran … to ease tensions in the region and the world,” the report said, insisting on Tehran’s “right to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.”

A cautious Saudi Arabia, an Iranian foe which is leading a coordinated assault on Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen, also welcomed the deal in a public statement. Riyadh was said to be satisfied with the fact that, under the deal, sanctions could snap back into place should Iran violate the agreement, Israel Radio reported.

Iran and the global powers sealed the breakthrough agreement outlining limits on Iran’s nuclear program designed to prevent the country from developing atomic weapons. The West has long suspected Iran of pursuing a nuclear weapons program. Iran denies the charge, saying its nuclear research is focused on peaceful purposes like power generation and cancer treatment.

The framework agreement, which calls for the Islamic Republic to lower the number of centrifuges capable of enriching uranium from 20,000 to 6,000, the reconstruction of a planned reactor, regular monitoring by UN inspectors, and the neutralization of the majority of its enriched stockpiles in exchange for a phased draw down of economic sanctions, was agreed to in principle on Thursday, with the expectation of signing a final agreement in June.

Syria is currently embroiled in a violent civil war that has claimed the lives of over 220,000 people and displaced millions. The Alawite Assad regime depends heavily on the support of Iran and its Shiite proxy Hezbollah to battle a contingency of moderate rebels and Sunni extremist groups vying for power in the devastated country.

Although the United States previously called for Syrian President Bashar Assad to step-down, recent reports suggest Washington has a vested interest in seeing the autocrat maintain his rule as a force against jihadist groups operating within the country.

The United States is currently leading an international military campaign against the Islamic State and other terrorist groups in Iraq and Syria.

AFP and Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

read more:
comments