There is a more than three-decade-long clash of cultures between Egypt's secular establishment and Iran's post-revolution clerical regime. The brief interlude following the election of Muslim Brotherhood President Mohammed Morsi was, alas, too brief to notice any significant change.
But all eyes in Tehran were back on Egypt this past weekend for the inauguration of General Abdulfattah al-Sisi after his election as president. Iran sent Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein Amir'abdollahian to the investiture ceremony.
For a sense of the deep skepticism in some Iranian quarters, the conservative daily Jomhuri-e Eslami called Sisi the man "who considers himself president of Egypt," noted Iran's ISNA news agency.
The paper deplored Iran's decision to acknowledge Sisi's election, observed that as the event broadcast on Egyptian television showed, "Sisi practically exchanged more courtesies and diplomatic conversation with Amir'abdollahian than other state heads and representatives."
The reason, it stated, "was that Sisi wanted to show the cameras he had Iran's approval." It concluded that Sisi was the great beneficiary of these images, while Iran had made a "blatant strategic mistake" by recognizing a "coup leader" as president.
It is never entirely sure what Iran could have wanted from Egypt in the past 30 years — except possibly its good offices with the West and Saudi Arabia, a close ally of Presidents Hosni Mubarak and al-Sisi.
— Ahmed Shayegan
Photo: Ahmed Gomaa/Xinhua/ZUMA