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Anti-Saudi Iranian funded media finds welcome home in Egypt Open in fullscreen

The New Arab

Anti-Saudi Iranian funded media finds welcome home in Egypt

An Egyptian official met with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif this month [Getty]

Date of publication: 28 December, 2016

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Egyptian authorities have reportedly given the green light for Iranian investments in local media projects, as strained relations between Cairo and Riyadh show little sign of improving.

Egyptian authorities have reportedly given the green light to Iranian investments in local media projects, as strained relations between Cairo and Riyadh show little sign of improving.

Egyptian sources told The New Arab on Tuesday that the government is moving towards opening the door for Iranian investment "to pressure Saudi Arabia and improve relations with Tehran".

The funds will reportedly be pumped into anti-Saudi media projects, to be led by well-known media personalities.

While they will be not overtly hostile to Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries and avoid further straining relations with Riyadh, the sources claimed, the Iran-funded media would be able to covertly influence public opinion.

These media projects, which are still in the planning stages, would shut down if the rift between Cairo and Riyadh ends, they added, suggesting they will be used for extracting political concessions from the Saudis.

Earlier this month, an Egyptian official met with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, in the latest sign of rapprochement between two the Middle Eastern powers.

Iran's foreign ministry spokesman said in November that Iran welcomes Egypt as a possible future partner.

     
      Egyptian media have recently lashed out at Saudi Arabia.
Headline reads "His majesty the traitor" [Twitter]

"Egypt is the cradle of a great civilisation and an influential country… but it has a long way to come to improve ties with Tehran," Bahram Ghasemi said.

Iran and Egypt have had no diplomatic relations since 1980, when Egypt offered Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi refuge following a revolution in Iran.

Shia-majority Iran and Sunni-majority Saudi Arabia have no diplomatic relations and support opposite sides in wars in Syria and Yemen. Relations between both states became increasingly hostile in recent decades as both vie for dominance in the Middle East and the wider Islamic world.

Egypt had been supported by billions of dollars in aid from Saudi Arabia, but ties have cooled between the two countries amid disagreements over Syria.

Saudi Arabia suspended oil shipments to Egypt in October, a move announced after Cairo backed a Russian-drafted resolution on Syria in the UN Security Council, angering Riyadh.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, a former military chief who overthrew his Islamist predecessor in 2013, has since been trying to strengthen ties with US President-elect Trump, Russia and the Syrian regime.

Egyptian media have recently lashed out at Saudi Arabia after officials from Riyadh visited a controversial dam in Ethiopia, dealing a fresh blow to already strained tensions.

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