Egypt to Strengthen Ties with Hezbollah

Cairo's envoy to Beirut said Egypt will develop its ties with Hezbollah, recognizing it as a "real political and military force".
(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) - In an interview with Lebanese publication the Daily Star, Egyptian ambassador to Lebanon Ashraf Hamdy said that his country's newly-elected Islamist government would build "tight" relations with Hezbollah, RT reported. 

He stated that the ruling Muslim Brotherhood was "stretching out its hand" to its neighbors with a view to developing its foreign policy and furthering interests. 

"You cannot discuss politics in Lebanon without having a relationship with Hezbollah. It is a real force on the ground. It has a big political and military influence in Lebanon," Hamdy stressed to the Daily Star. 

He went on to deny reports that a delegation from the political group had already visited Egypt for negotiations, but conceded that he had met with Hezbollah political bureau members for discussions "to understand each other better". 

Egypt's relations with Hezbollah were strained during ex-President Hosni Mubarak's reign. The worsening in relations can mainly be attributed to Egypt's peace treaty with Israel and Egypt's refusal to intervene to support Gaza-based Palestinians during Israel's 2008 incursion into Gaza. 

Mubarak was ousted in last year's uprising that was intended to usher in a new era of democracy in Egypt. 

Hamdy said that recently Egypt's internal conflicts had impeded the progress of Muslim Brotherhood's foreign policy ambitions, and stressed that progress would perhaps take longer than initially thought. 

"To expect 180-degree shifts in strong positions take some time. Due to what is happening domestically in Egypt, it might have meant that we have been a bit slower than expected," noted Hamdy. However, he stated that Egypt's "intrinsic soft power" in the region would be instrumental in mediation with antagonistic forces in the region. 

"Egypt will reveal itself as a real regional power and a 'doer' on the regional scene and we are keen to show that," concluded Hamdy.

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