Iran 'welcomes' resumption of diplomatic ties with Morocco, Egypt amid Middle East thaw

Iran 'welcomes' resumption of diplomatic ties with Morocco, Egypt amid Middle East thaw
Iran has expressed its willingness to reestablish its ties with Morocco and Egypt, with whom relations have been frosty in the past number of years.
3 min read
01 July, 2023
Hossein Amir-Abdollahian also called for unity within the Islamic and Muslim world during the ceremony [Getty]

Iran’s foreign ministry on Thursday said that the country was willing to restore diplomatic relations with Morocco and Egypt, amid Iranian efforts to foster friendly relations with countries in the region.

Hossein Amir-Abdollahian made the remarks at a ceremony with a number of officials and heads of diplomatic missions from Muslim-majority countries in the capital Tehran on Thursday, the Iranian official news agency IRNA said.

Amir-Abdollahian expressed readiness to restore diplomatic relations beyond Saudi Arabia, with whom Tehran resumed ties earlier this year.

He also expressed the need for more Islamic unity, and to address regional and global issues impacting the Muslim world, including the ongoing conflict in Sudan and continued advocacy for the Palestinian cause.

The ceremony was held on the occasion of the Muslim Eid al-Adha festival.

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"We welcome expansion of relations and normalisation of ties with other countries in the region and the Muslim world, including the Arab Republic of Egypt and the Muslim and brotherly country of Morocco," Amir-Abdollahian stated.

Bilateral ties between Morocco and Iran are mostly non-existent, with Rabat having severed ties with Tehran in 2018 after it accused Iran of providing financial and logistical support to the Polisario Front through the Lebanese Hezbollah group, as well as the Iranian embassy in Algeria.

The Polisario Front is a separatist group seeking the independence of the disputed Wester Sahara territory. Morocco de facto controls 80 percent of the region, which is rich in phosphates and boats a long Atlantic coast.

Morocco also cut ties with the Islamic Republic in 2009, following an Iranian official’s statement "undermining" Bahrain's Sunni monarchy in the Shia-majority gulf country.

Rabat also ruptured ties fearing Iran would "spread" Shia Islam in Sunni-majority Morocco.

The North African kingdom eventually went on to restore relations five years later, in 2014.

Meanwhile, relations between Iran and Egypt have been marred with tension and distrust over the last few decades, particularly in the aftermath of the 1979 revolution when then-president Anwar Sadat welcomed the ousted Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi to the country.

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Relations were subsequently restored and cut a number of times throughout the last few decades. However, Egypt and Iran have had numerous rounds of talks in Oman aimed at restoring relations between the two countries this year, in the aftermath of Tehran’s détente with Saudi Arabia.

A potential restoration of bilateral ties comes as Iran and Saudi Arabia in March agreed to normalise relations in a China-brokered deal following seven years of frosty ties, triggered by the execution of Saudi Shia cleric Nimr al-Nimr in 2016.

Since then, embassies in the respective countries have reopened, while Iran and Saudi Arabia's foreign ministers have held talks.