According to Egyptian ambassador to Lebanon, Ashraf Hamdy, the new Muslim Brotherhood-backed Egyptian government intends to build “tight” relations with the resistance group, which the United States, Israel and Canada regard as a terrorist organization.
Hamdy said the Egyptian government was “stretching out its hand” to its neighbors to further its influence in the region.
“You cannot discuss politics in Lebanon without having a relationship with Hezbollah,” Hamdy said. “It is a real force on the ground. It has a big political and military influence in Lebanon.”
This change in policy stands in stark contrast to the severe strain in relations between Hezbollah and the Egyptian government under ousted President Hosni Mubarak.
Mubarak was in the vanguard of not only the peace treaty with Israel in 1979 but Egypt’s refusal to intervene to back the Gaza-based Palestinians during the 2008 Israeli attack on Gaza.
Relations with Iran, which helps finance and supply Hezbollah, also have been strained ever since Mubarak granted political asylum to the last Shah of Iran after his ouster following the 1979 Islamic Revolution that brought the Iran clerical rule under Islamic law.
“Egypt will reveal itself as a real regional power and a ‘doer’ on the regional scene and we are keen to show that,” Hamdy said.
The new Egyptian government under the Muslim Brotherhood-backed Mohamed Morsi earlier signaled an increasingly close tie with Hezbollah when Morsi visited Iran last August.
Indeed, it was Iran which had backed the Muslim Brotherhood efforts to oust Mubarak, viewing him as a tool of the West.
Morsi’s visit was the first by an Egyptian leader to Iran in decades. It occurred on the occasion of the Non-Aligned Movement meeting of 120 nations that was taking place in Tehran.
His visit also went contrary to the wishes of Washington, which does not recognize the Iranian government and is prepared militarily to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities along with Israel if ongoing negotiations over Tehran’s nuclear enrichment don’t succeed.
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