Iran’s Air Travel and Tourism Services Society has announced plans to launch the first direct flight from Tehran to the Egyptian capital, Cairo, within the next six weeks. This flight aims to carry the first group of Iranian tourists to Egypt.
Notably, Iran and Egypt have not maintained diplomatic relations since 1980. However, Oman and Iraq have reportedly been mediating between the two countries, working towards restoring bilateral ties. There are also news reports regarding an exchange of ambassadors later this year and a meeting between the presidents.
Earlier this year, Egyptian officials revealed that Oman’s ruler, Sultan Haitham bin Tarik, visited Egypt for two days, during which he discussed Cairo’s relations with Tehran with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El Sisi.
In this regard, Tasnim news agency affiliated with the IRGC reported that Iran and Egypt engaged in talks mediated by Iraq to resume tourism between the two nations adding that a delegation from the Egyptian tourism ministry is expected to visit Tehran shortly.
A direct flight between Tehran and Cairo is set to begin renewed air travel between the two cities. According to Tasnim’s report, establishing a consulate will eliminate the need for Iraq to serve as an intermediary country, causing delays and additional costs. This development aims to streamline the travel process and enhance the efficiency of the Tehran-Cairo route.
This development comes amidst a warming trend in relations between Cairo and Tehran in recent months. In late May, Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, welcomed the restoration of ties with Egypt, which had been severed since the Islamic Revolution of 1979. Two months earlier, Egypt eased tourist visa requirements for Iranian nationals, enabling Iranians who wish to visit South Sinai to obtain a visa upon arrival.
Additionally, in mid-March, the Egyptian presidency welcomed the Saudi-Iranian deal to resume diplomatic ties between the two countries, hailing it as an “important step” in easing regional tensions. The presidency also expressed hope that Tehran would adopt policies that consider the legitimate concerns of regional countries.
The recent softening of relations between Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Iran has created a favorable landscape for a potential reconciliation between Iran and Egypt. With Egypt being largely aligned with Saudi Arabia and the UAE, their engagement with Iran makes it easier for Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to try and step in.
Other geopolitical factors, such as the situation in Ukraine and the growing influence of Russia and China in the Middle East, have also fueled the potential détente between Egypt and Iran. Both countries have strong relations with Russia and China and see opportunities for political, economic, and geostrategic gains by improving their ties.
For Egypt, on the one hand, normalizing relations with Iran is seen as another means to influence Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza and reduce the potential for escalation whenever conflicts arise with Israel. But on the other, it is still suspicious of Iran’s subversive activities in its territory, particularly along its southern border and the Red Sea.
Despite recent efforts to improve relations between Iran and Egypt, deep-seated tensions exist between the two countries. Iran supported the rise of Islamists to power in Egypt following the Arab Spring and saw the Egyptian Revolution as a continuation of its own Islamic Revolution.
In Tehran’s view, the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak validated its political doctrine, which holds that “true Islam” is the only alternative to American hegemony in the Middle East. Iran has also stressed the similarities between the two countries and has said that Mubarak’s fate would be similar to that of the Shah of Iran.
In 1982, Iran issued a postal stamp in memory of Khalid Islambouli, the assassin of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat. Islambouli is also honored in Tehran’s Martyrs Museum, along with Ahmed Yassin, Yehye Ayash, Fathi Shaqaqi, and Hizbullah’s former Secretary General Abbas al-Musawi, and Imad Mughniyah.
Iran also continues to view Egypt as the country that paved the way for normalizing relations between Israel and the Arab world. Tehran severed diplomatic ties with Cairo after Egypt signed the Camp David Accords with Israel in 1979, and it has never fully restored them. Today Iran is trying to reverse the normalization of the Gulf States’ relationship with Israel and stop Saudi Arabia from normalizing its ties with Israel.
Iran Dossier Direct flight between Tehran and Cairo?