Mubarak on urgent trip to Gulf about Iran’s reconciliation move

While Israel was wholly caught up in the next stage of a deal with Hamas for trading its soldier Gilead Shalit for several hundred jailed Palestinians, the Iran-Syrian axis pounced with swift moves to mend its fences with moderate Arab rulers. Sunday, Dec. 20, the powerful Iranian speaker of parliament, Ali Larijani, arrived in Cairo and was received at once by Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak for a conversation lasting two hours.
debkafile‘s Iranian sources report that the Iranian visitor carried with him a wide-ranging proposal to ease the strained relations between Tehran and the moderate Arab governments.
Without wasting a moment, the next day, the Egyptian president flew to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the Arab emirates to discuss the momentous turn of events.
The octogenarian Mubarak travels very infrequently these days because of his failing health except in extraordinary circumstances. He was galvanized this time by the message Larijani brought from Tehran containing the offer of “a new Iranian approach to resolving outstanding issues.” Iran’s president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has already offered to open an embassy in Cairo for the first time since ties were broken off after Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution.
Aware that any breakthrough with the Arab governments was contingent on allaying their fears of its nuclear drive, Iran’s offer of a new beginning is reported by our sources as including a form of Iranian-Arab nuclear cooperation. Its immediate objective is to close ranks with the Arab nations in order to outmaneuver the US-Israeli campaign against its nuclear drive, thereby derailing the US president Barack Obama’s plans for drawing Europe, Russian and China into approving another round of harsh sanctions against the Islamic Republic.
The expeditiousness of Mubarak response to Tehran’s overture and the promptness of his Gulf consultations indicated that the bloc of Arab nations, which he and Saudi king Abdullah lead, has given up on effective action by America or Israel, including force, for throwing Iran off its current nuclear course.
Within the region today, coexistence with Iran looks like a safer bet.
If this burgeoning realignment of Middle East partnerships goes forward, the region’s strategic balance will be pulled out of shape, Washington’s influence heavily downgraded and Israel isolated.
Iran and Syria are acting on more than one front. When Lebanese prime minister Saad Hariri visited Damascus over the weekend, he was handed an invitation to visit Tehran soon by Syrian president Bashir Assad.
Furthermore, Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is in Damascus with 10 of his ministers to sign new accords for closer relations. The new Turkish-Syrian pact brings Ankara into Iran’s circle of influence.
In Washington, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs warned that December is a very real deadline ahead of possible new sanctions on Iran and its nuclear program.
The US year-end deadline for accepting a UN-brokered compromise for its nuclear program was quickly brushed off by Ahmadinejad. “They say we have given Iran until the end of the Christian year. Who are they anyway? It is we who have given them an opportunity,” Ahmadinejad said in a speech in the city of Shiraz carried live on state television Monday, Dec. 22.

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