An anti-Iranian organization is seeking to base its new headquarters in Egypt, a move that could further sour relations between Tehran and Cairo.
The People’s Mujahidin of Iran, also known as the Mujahidin Khalq Organization (MKO), is an Iranian opposition movement outlawed in Iran.
The movement has had camps in Iraq since the early 1980s and sided with former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein during the Iran-Iraq war. Its leaders fled to France during the 1980s.
Today, Baghdad seeks to expel MKO members from the country and MKO leaders are looking for alternative bases in the region.
Egypt recently agreed to accommodate the MKO on its soil, Iraq sources told the Iranian Mehr news organization.
Last month, European states removed the organization from its list of banned terrorist groups. However, the United States State Department still designates the MKO a foreign terrorist organization.
If Egypt accepts the MKO on its territory, this would strain already tense relations between Egypt and Tehran.
Iran cut its diplomatic relations with Egypt following the late president Anwar Sadat’s signing of the Camp David peace agreement with Israel in 1979.
Sadat’s welcoming of the shah of Iran following the collapse of his regime in 1979 sharpened the tensions between the two countries.
This was compounded when Iran named a street after Khalid Al-Islambouli, the man who assassinated Sadat in 1981.
More recently, Egypt and Iran have expressed willingness to restore diplomatic ties.
Analysts say any thaw in these relations would be subtle rather than drastic, so as not to jeopardize Egypt’s delicate relations with the United States.
Tension recently surged between Iran and Egypt over the latter’s involvement in the Gaza crisis.
If Egypt indeed agreed to host the MKO on its soil, this would signal the end of any reconciliation efforts between the two countries, said Walid Kazziha, a professor of political science at the American University in Cairo.
“This is a militia that has been antagonizing the regime in Iran since its inception,” Kazziha told The Media Line. “I imagine Egypt will not allow them as an armed band because Egyptians are very sensitive about this. But if they allow them political refuge here, the result will be eternal enmity with the Iranian regime and the question is whether this is in Egypt’s national interest.”
Written by The Media Line Staff