Saturday, 25 March, 2017

Iranian investments in Egyptian media likely to anger Saudi Arabia

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The Egyptian authorities will allow Iranian investments in local media projects, Middle East Monitor reported. The move is likely to put a further strain on relations between Cairo and Riyadh.

The Egyptian government is initiating moves for Iranian investments in a bid “to pressure Saudi Arabia and improve relations with Tehran,” according to The New Arab. Iranian funding will apparently be driven into anti-Saudi media projects and led by well-known media figures. Though the investments will not be used to generate hostility towards Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries that is likely to strain relations even more, they will be used to influence public opinion in accordance with government regulations.

An Egyptian official met with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif earlier this month in what can be viewed as further efforts to strengthen ties with Iran. The government in Tehran has stated previously that it will welcome Egypt as a possible future partner. “Egypt is the cradle of a great civilisation and an influential country,” explained Foreign Ministry spokesperson Bahram Ghasemi, “but it has a long way to go to improve ties with Tehran.”

The strengthening of ties is significant as Iran and Egypt have had no diplomatic relations since 1980, when the government of then President Anwar Sadat offered Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi asylum following the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Egypt has been supported by billions of dollars in aid from Saudi Arabia. However, the tension means that such funding may not be offered again so easily, especially since the disagreement over their respective approaches to the war in Syria. This was exposed when Cairo’s backing of a Russian-drafted resolution on Syria in the UN Security Council was followed by Saudi Arabia suspending oil shipments to Egypt in October.

Egyptian media recently condemned a visit by Saudi officials to a controversial dam in Ethiopia, dealing a fresh blow to the Cairo-Riyadh relationship.

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