President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad traveled to Cairo on Tuesday, the first visit by an Iranian leader to Egypt since the two countries broke off diplomatic relations three decades ago and a barometer of the shifts in regional dynamics underway since the start of the Arab uprisings.
Relations between the two countries have warmed since the toppling of Egypt’s former president, Hosni Mubarak, who was deeply hostile to Iran’s leadership and portrayed himself to his allies, including the United States, the Persian Gulf monarchies and Israel, as a bulwark against Iranian influence.
Lately, though, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has been promoting the idea that the recent Arab revolutions were inspired by the Iranian revolution of 1979.
“Egypt is a very important country in the region and the Islamic Republic of Iran believes it is one of the heavyweights in the Middle East,” Iran’s foreign minister, Ali Akbar Salehi, told the state Islamic Republic News Agency in Munich on Tuesday. “We are ready to further strengthen ties.”