The excellent Jonathan Schanzer explains the double-game that Egypt, a nation that receives billions of dollars of US foreign aid, is playing to enable Iranian treachery and aggression….
If you ever find yourself in downtown Tehran, it’s hard to miss the five-story-tall mural commemorating Khaled al-Islambouli, the man who assassinated Egyptian President Anwar Sadat in October 1981. The mural has long been a symbol of Iran’s deep disdain for Egypt’s secular rulers, particularly their peace with Israel and their alliance with the U.S. The mutual animosity has endured over the years, from Egyptian support for Iraq during the Iran-Iraq War to the 2009 arrest of 26 members of an Iran-backed Hizbullah cell in Egypt. In recent years, Cairo has also expressed its staunch opposition to Iran’s nuclear program, which Egypt and other Arab states view as a threat.
But Egypt-Iran relations are not as black-and-white as they may seem. Egypt is expanding its financial ties with Iran through a jointly owned financial institution: the Misr Iran Development Bank. MIDB was founded in 1975, four years before Iran’s Islamic revolution, and has somehow endured the tumult since. Today, the MIDB may have become a vehicle for Iran to circumvent economic sanctions with extensive help from Egypt, one of America’s closest allies in the region. It is a testament to how difficult it can be for the U.S. to enforce international sanctions, even among countries that appear to be natural allies in the effort to deter Iran.