CAIRO: Iran has reacted to criticism by President Hosni Mubarak about its interference in the region, responding that the criticism was “divorced from reality.
Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hassan Qashqavi told reporters in Tehran Wednesday that such statements were counterproductive and did not advance the best interests of the region.
“These statements are completely divorced from reality, he said, “Iranian authorities have on numerous occasions shown restraint and good intentions towards their Egyptian counterparts.
“We believe these statements by no means serve the interests of the region, Qashqavi added, “We take pride in our supportive stance towards the Palestinian cause, particularly at a time when the Israeli regime has deprived them of their rights and ancestral lands.
Mubarak had said in an interview with US broadcaster PBS that Iran should not complain of interference in its affairs when it does the same in other countries of the Middle East.
“I say to Iran, if you complain of interventions from external forces in Iran . don’t do it with other countries, he said.
“Relations have gotten worse recently between the two countries due to the discovery of the Hezbollah terror cell in Egypt, said International Relations expert at Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies Emad Gad. “Iran – as a big Hezbollah supporter – is upset about it and Egypt has capitalized on the capture and its implications.
Egypt had recently announced the capture of a cell affiliated to Hezbollah that was providing support to Hamas in the Gaza Strip through the Egyptian border.
The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood also released a statement in response to Mubarak’s comments, criticizing his comparative silence on Israel’s nuclear capabilities.
“The Egyptian position affirms countries’ right to the peaceful use of nuclear energy, read the statement, “President Mubarak said in Washington that the region must be free of nuclear weapons but added that it did not mean Iran should possess nuclear weapons if [Israel] did. The statement claimed this remark weakens the Egyptian position.
Commenting on the sympathy displayed by a Sunni Muslim group such as the Brotherhood towards Iran, which is Shia, Gad said, “Hamas is also a Sunni group like the Muslim Brotherhood but right now all their political interests are aligned. The Brotherhood are pleased with Iran’s financial support of Hamas. However, there are of course huge religious and ideological differences.
Mubarak was on a trip to Washington to meet with US President Barack Obama and Iran was on the agenda for discussion. Both countries are concerned with Iran’s nuclear program.
But Mubarak had urged for restraint in a closed meeting with Jewish leaders in the US on Monday, saying, “An attack would only rally the Iranians around their leadership. There is a rift within the Iranian leadership, and the best way [to deal with its nuclear program] is to wait.
Egypt and Iran have not had formal relations since the Islamic Revolution of 1979, whose leaders were opposed to the Egyptian signing of the Camp David Accords with Israel that same year.