Iran has offered its cooperation with Egypt in dealing with the Gaza border crisis in the wake of last week’s destruction of the border fence by Hamas terrorists. According to Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, the Islamic Republic is just a step away from normalization of ties with Egypt. "We are just waiting for our Egyptian friends to proclaim their final readiness," said Mottaki at a news conference Monday.
Intelligence reports have said that Iran provides advanced terrorist training as well as funding and arms to the terrorist group.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad telephoned Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, last week, to discuss the destruction of the Gaza-Egypt border fence by Hamas. Hamas bombs opened a wide breach through which tens of thousands of Gaza residents, among them many terrorists, have been traveling to and from Egypt, to restock on cigarettes and various supplies.
Senior Iranian diplomat Ali Asghar Mohammadi was in Cairo for a rare visit Sunday to meet with Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit to offer the Islamic Republic’s assistance with the negotiations over future control over the Gaza border.
The offer comes as part of a general thawing of relations between Egypt and the Islamic Republic.
The two nations have had no diplomatic ties for almost 30 years.
Iran broke off relations after Egyptian President Anwar Sadat signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1979 and provided asylum for the deposed Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi at the time.
However, communication between the two nations has resumed over the past two months with contacts between senior diplomats in various areas.
Ali Larijani, Iran’s former nuclear development czar and currently a member of the country’s National Security Council, met in Cairo with Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit in the last few days of 2007 to discuss renewing diplomatic ties. Larijani later described the interaction as “positive and productive.”
There have been numerous reports by Israeli intelligence that Hamas operatives are receiving advanced terrorist training in Iran. The Islamic Republic is also suspected of funding and equipping the terrorist organization with improved missiles and other arms.
A Katyusha rocket fired by Hamas terrorists during an attack on Ashkelon earlier this month was found to have been manufactured in Iran.
Initially Egypt said it would not rebuild the border fence that separates it from Gaza, but quickly reconsidered the plan after thousands of PA Arabs continued to pour into the country, many choosing to live as refugees in Egypt rather than return to Hamas- controlled Gaza.
More than three dozen Egyptian police officers were wounded while trying to close the border on Saturday; the security forces were given a green light Sunday to use electrical cattle prods to keep vehicles from entering Egypt. Sand was piled up on the Egyptian side to create barriers in the gaping holes blown out by the explosives detonated by Hamas.
Pedestrian traffic has since continued unabated, but security forces have managed to contain the shoppers within the border town of Rafiah, site of the Egypt-Gaza crossing terminal.
Talks Sunday between Egyptian and Palestinian Authority officials resulted in an agreement to allow the Fatah-led PA government to take control of the border crossing. Hamas officials will meet with their Egyptian counterparts later in the week.