CAIRO: Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit allegedly dismissed the visit of US President George Bush to the region as irrelevant, adding that his latest peace efforts are an insincere exercise in futility, reported the local press.
Aboul Gheit apparently made these comments at a meeting of the committee on foreign relations and national security at the National Democratic Party (NDP) Policies Secretariat on Saturday according to Al-Masry Al-Youm.
Bush arrives in Egypt today to wrap up the longest tour of the Middle East in his seven-year tenure.
“If he [Bush] was going to do something, he would have done it a long time ago. We will meet him anyway. It is a matter of public relations, Aboul Gheit said at the meeting, attended by the President’s son Gamal Mubarak who heads the NDP’s Policies Secretariat.
He added, however, that the US was a superpower that must be feared.Comments such as these should not be surprising given Bush’s previous track record, said Diaa Rashwan, an analyst with Al Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies.
“It is skepticism born from his previous actions, he told Daily News Egypt, “he has been president since 2000 and people are judging him through his policies and not from expectations. This is the political reality and that is how he is being judged. He is a failed president, in the US as well as here.
As for Aboul Gheit’s comments, Rashwan said it is not uncommon in international diplomacy for there to be criticism between allies.
Aboul Gheit was also less than complimentary about the possible resumption of ties with Iran, strained for almost three decades. “Egypt cannot forge an alliance with Iran because it is against international legitimacy, he said.
The FM also directed a warning towards Iran concerning their involvement in the Gulf. “We told Ali Larijani, Iran’s national security adviser, that we have interests in the Gulf and that we will not allow anyone to dictate to us what to do there.
Despite the comments, Rashwan believes that overall there was improvement in relations between Iran and the rest of the Middle East which he attributed to Bush’s imminent departure from office.
However, Rashwan said that Egypt’s relationship with Iran was “more complex because of events that took place after the 1979 Islamic revolution, with Egypt granting asylum to the deposed Shah and Iran naming a street in Tehran after Khaled Eslambouli, the man who assassinated former Egyptian president Anwar Sadat.
Aboul Gheit joins a chorus of voices usually at odds with each other within Egypt, who are less than enamoured by the American president’s impending visit.
The Muslim Brotherhood (MB) and other Islamist groups in Egypt branded Bush a murderer, adding that he was not welcome.
The group released a statement accusing Bush of having bloodstained hands and supporting “corrupt and tyrannical regimes in our Arab world and support[ing] them against the wishes of their people.
MB General Secretary Mahmoud Ezzat told Daily News Egypt, “Does anyone believe [the peace drive] after all that has happened and the reality on the ground where the US has intervened?