In a dramatic policy shift, Egypt will seek to forge “tight” relations with Hezbollah, Egyptian Ambassador to Lebanon Ashraf Hamdy revealed in a candid interview published Saturday in Lebanon’s Daily Star.
“You cannot discuss politics in Lebanon without having a relationship with Hezbollah,” Hamdy was quoting as saying, before describing the terror group as a “real force on the ground” with “big political and military influence.”
In this respect, Hamdy announced that Muslim-Brotherhood-dominated Egypt would begin “stretching [its] hand out in the proper, balanced way to all regional powers,” including Hezbollah, in order to forge “tight” contacts with Lebanon’s rulers.
Egypt-Hezbollah relations, generally strained under former president Hosni Mubarak, in large part due to Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel, reached rock bottom in 2008 during Israel’s Operation Cast Lead. At that time, Hezbollah leader Hasan Nasrallah called on Egypt, to no avail, to intervene militarily on behalf of Gaza-based Palestinians. For its part, Egypt in the past has accused Hezbollah of operating terror cells in the country.
In his interview, Hamdy denied reports that Hezbollah had sent a delegation to Egypt to meet with President Mohamed Morsi’s regime, but confirmed that he personally had met with members of Hezbollah’s political bureau in efforts “to understand each other better.”
“In discussions we said we want Hezbollah to remain as a political force in Lebanon,” Hamdy revealed.