Minister of Religious Endowments Mohamed Mokhtar Gomaa reiterated the warning against “political Shiism” which aims to divide the Muslim Sunni communities, emphasising the refusal to allow any of the ministry’s employees or preachers to travel to Iran, according to a Monday ministry statement.
Gomaa also warned against Iranian expansion and its “blatant interference” in Arab countries’ internal affairs. He added that Iran is exercising great political manoeuvres in order to expand its influence in the region on the expense of Arab national security.
Iran is a stronghold of the Shi’a Muslim faith, with the lion share of its population following Shiism and a strong influence of its religious leaders in politics.
Political analyst in the Ahram Center for Strategic Studies Mohamed Abbas said that the ministry’s statement warns against Iran’s use of the Shiism as a tool to expand its control over the Arab region.
Iran is accused of using “soft power” to support its presence in the area through its control over four capitals of Arab countries: Sana’a, Beirut, Baghdad and Damascus, Abbas added.
The ministry statement reiterated Gomaa’s condemnation of Iranian leaders’ statements, boasting about Iran’s “control of the political decision” in four capitals of Arab countries. Gomaa described the statements as “provocative”.
However, Iran supports the Shi’a Houthi militias in Yemen who took over the Yemini capital, Sana’a in September 2014. Iran also opposes the Saudi-led coalition’s airstrikes on Yemen against the Houthi militias, with the purported aim of “restoring legitimacy” in favour of Yemeni President Abdrabou Mansur Hadi. Egypt supported the Saudi led airstrikes and announced its “political and military support” in the coalition against the Houthis.
The same goes for Bashar Al-Assad’s regime in Syria. Iran has opposed any international intervention force to end the four-year war in the country military intervention in Syria and is the main backer of the Assad regime in the region.
Syria has been witnessing conflict between rebels and the current regime since 2011 within the context of the Arab Spring revolutions.
Abbas said that he is against “exaggerating the role of Iran”. Iran has Damascus and Baghdad under its control as their governments are strong allies with Iran; however Beirut is not, and “we can’t say that after the Saudi-led airstrikes on Yemen that Sana’a is under Iran’s control”, he said. Nonetheless, Iran could be using its relations with the Houthis in order to control the decision-making process in Yemen.
Despite the ministry’s statement, Abbas said that Egypt is not engaged in the air strikes in Yemen against the Houthis because of their sect, but rather to defend its national security.