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Gaza Conflict Prompts Iran-Egypt Diplomatic Dialogue, Raisi and Sisi in Discussion

December 24, 2023
Image Credit: Presidency.eg

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi received a phone call from Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, initiating discussions about the war on Gaza and the potential restoration of diplomatic ties between the two states.

The call, held on 23 December, began with Raisi congratulating Al-Sisi on securing a third presidential term after winning the presidential elections.

“President Al-Sisi appreciated this valued gesture,” read the Egyptian presidential press release.

The presidential pair also tackled developments in the Gaza Strip.

“The Zionist regime is a cancerous tumour and a serious threat to security and peace in the region has been proven to everyone,” read the Iranian presidential press release, which also dismissed the United States’ role as a peace mediator due to its unconditional support of Israel.

Raisi also affirmed his expectation in Egypt to use “all its capacities” to stop Israel’s continuous military operations in Gaza and continue serving as a gateway to humanitarian relief for Palestinians.

The two heads of state hinted at a potential diplomatic restoration between Egypt and Iran.

“[Al-Sisi] emphasised his country’s readiness to take practical steps to resolve issues between the two countries,” stated the Iranian press release.

In comparison, the Egyptian press release framed a focus on discussing “outstanding issues” existing between the two countries.


The historical relationship between the two states has been turbulent since the mid-twentieth century. Despite maintaining diplomatic ties, ideological differences often strained the two states’ relations.

Tensions escalated when Gamal Abdel Nasser, who later became Egypt’s president in 1956, perceived Iran’s alignment with the US and recognition of Israel in 1950 as a betrayal.

In the 1970s, under President Anwar Sadat, Egypt’s shift towards a more Western-oriented foreign policy brought it closer to Tehran’s monarchy. This alignment, however, was short-lived as the establishment of the Islamic Republic in 1979 strained relations again. Formal ties were severed following Egypt’s endorsement of Iraq in the Iraq-Iran War in 1980.

Despite previous Iranian leaders’ aims for a formal reconciliation with Egypt, previous attempts were unsuccessful. Partial relations were maintained by President Hosni Mubarak, but advances by former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami for a full diplomatic resumption were rejected.

The opportunity to mend relations emerged after the 2011 Revolution ousted Mubarak. Iran believed it was a chance to mend fences and develop trade relations with Egypt – doing so with Muslim Brotherhood President Mohamed Morsi. While full diplomatic ties were not restored, each state’s leader visited the other for the first time in over 30 years.

Despite their support for the Muslim Brotherhood, and Morsi’s removal after the 2013 Revolution, Iran continued to publicly express interest in restoring diplomatic ties.

The Al-Sisi administration maintained a no-restoration stance up until a recent meeting between the two current presidents on the sidelines of the Arab-Islamic Summit in Riyadh in November 2023.

Egypt would be following in the footsteps of Saudi Arabia, which signed a breakthrough agreement with Iran to restore diplomatic relations in March 2023.

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