Egypt tells Iran that Gulf security is “red line”


Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Elaraby told Iran not to meddle in the internal affairs of Gulf Arab states, saying that Cairo considers the security of fellow Arab countries “a red line”, or no-go area.

Tensions between non-Arab Iran and its Gulf Arab neighbours have risen after Tehran objected to the despatch of Saudi troops to Bahrain in March to help crush an uprising by mostly Shi’ite Muslims against the kingdom’s Sunni rulers, and a spying row.

In excerpts of an interview with al-Arabiya television, broadcast on Monday, Elaraby said he had communicated Egypt’s views with “frankness and clarity” on security in the Gulf region to his Iranian counterpart, Reuters reports.
“Egypt does not accept the intervention by any state in the internal affairs of another state,” Elaraby said.
“For Egypt, the security of the Gulf (region) is an inseparable part of the security of Egypt, and the phrase I used was ‘a red line’,” he added.

Iran has called on the U.N. Security Council to protect opposition activists in Bahrain, where, it said, unrest and suppression could destabilise the entire region.

In April, the foreign ministers of the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council, a pro-Western alliance of oil-rich monarchies, “severely condemned Iranian interference in the internal affairs of Bahrain which is in violation of international pacts”.

Ties between Egypt, the most populous country in the Arab World, and Iran were cut after Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution and after Egypt made peace with Israel the same year. But they have been improving since a popular uprising toppled Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on Feb. 11.

Gulf Arab states, which had relied on Mubarak’s support in their long stand-offs with Iran, have been alarmed by improved ties between Cairo and Tehran after the revolution.

Elaraby is due to take over as Arab League Secretary General when the term of current chief Amr Moussa ends later this year.