US Cautions Egypt against Growing Ties with Tehran
TEHRAN (FNA)- US Ambassador to Cairo warned Egypt against resuming relations with Iran after several key Islamist figures were named as presidential contenders for the upcoming elections in the Arab country.
US Envoy to Cairo Ann Paterson told the Egyptian news channel, CBC, that Washington is deeply concerned about Ikhwan al-Muslimun (Muslim Brotherhood) Party's growing ties with Iran.
"Washington expresses its concern about the Egyptian Islamic movements' relations with Tehran," the US ambassador said.
Paterson's remarks came after Muslim Brotherhood named its deputy secretary-general Kheyrat al-Shater as a candidate for the upcoming presidential election in Egypt.
Ex-Brotherhood Leader Abdel Moneim Abol Fotouh had also earlier announced that he would run in the presidential race.
The US worries about the growing ties between Egypt and Iran have specially deepened after a recent survey found that Egyptians have an increasingly deep trust and admiration for Iran and want Tehran to pick up the strategic role of the United States in their country's foreign policy.
An overwhelming majority of Egyptians support replacing US economic aid with funds from Iran or Turkey, said the poll results.
Eighty-two percent of the Egyptians questioned opposed US economic aid to Egypt - according to the figures released this weekend by the US-based Gallup polling organization - up from 71% in December 2011 and 52% last April.
The latest figures, released in 2010, show US assistance to Egypt at $1.7 billion - the fifth-highest foreign aid package after Israel, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq. Still, $1.3 billion of that sum is earmarked for military purposes, and Egypt's ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces has given no indication it intends to cut its portion of Washington's package.
Egyptians' attitudes toward US aid appear to have soured at the same time as American and European NGO employees faced charges of illegally accepting foreign funds and stirring unrest. The military council closed the NGOs in December, but a month ago dropped the charges against the six US workers and lifted the travel ban against them, a move which has angered people and parties from across the political spectrum.
The NGO saga continues to stir strong emotions among citizens in Egypt, and the country's parliamentary speaker - representing the Muslim Brotherhood - has called for an investigation into how the decision to remove the travel ban was issued.
A Gallup poll released last month found 56% of Egyptians view relations with the US as bad for their country, up from 40% in December of last year. Just over a quarter say closer relations with Washington are a positive thing, compared with 41% who favor closer ties with Iran.
The latest results indicate only 19% of Egyptians express approval of US government policy, while 65% disapprove and the rest are undecided.