(Persia Digest) – Former Iranian Ambassador to Libya says: “One of the reasons for protests by the Sudanese against Omar al-Bashir was his cooperation with Saudi Arabia in the crackdown on Yemen. Worried about a similar faith, Egypt’s al-Sisi has left the Arab NATO to prevent protests by Egyptians.”

Some media outlets have reported Egypt’s withdrawal from the Arab NATO while the US has spent the past year in collaboration with Saudi Arabia and the UAE trying to create a regional military organization against Iran.

Former Iranian Ambassador to Libya, Jafar Ghanadbashi, told Persia Digest in an interview: “Egypt took this decision for domestic reasons. The Arab NATO aimed to use forces in countries like Egypt with a population of 90 million to form an Arab force. The UAE and Saudi Arabia are wealthy countries wishing for a large military force in which Egypt can play a main part.”

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He added: “With this in mind, joint manoeuvres were staged between Saudi Arabia, the UAE, France, the US, and Egypt last year to persuade Egyptian forces to take part in the Arab NATO. But presently, Cairo is worried about similar protests in Sudan to take place in Egypt; because, one of the reasons the Sudanese Government lost its popular footing was its cooperation with Saudi Arabia in its crackdown in Yemen. The ousted President Omar al-Bashir’s policies led to economic difficulties and loss of life of Sudanese soldiers, entailing protests by the people.”

This expert on African affairs reminded: “Thus, Egyptian leaders are determined to reassure the army and people that they do not intend to act within the framework of the Arab League led by the Saudis; especially as the Egyptians loath Saudi Arabia after al-Sisi transferred the sovereignty of the two islands of Tiran and Sanafir to Ben Salman.”

Speaking about the possibility of a rapprochement between Egypt and Iran, Ghanadbashi said: “Al-Sisi is not in a position to move towards Iran and there are no indications of such a move.”

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He remarked on the change in US policy for a convergence between the Arabs after Egypt left the Arab NATO by saying: “The United States does not have a precise strategic policy on the Middle East and Egypt's recent decision will not change the general equation. In the current situation, Cairo’s explanation for Washington is that they are under domestic pressures and their continued presence in the Arab NATO will lose al-Sisi his popular base. In actual fact, Egypt’s leaders are not inclined to add new reasons for protests alongside their economic difficulties and dissatisfaction with al-Sisi’s long tenure in office. They seem to have convinced the Americans.”

The former Iranian Ambassador to Libya wrapped up by saying: “At any rate, Egypt’s exit from the Arab NATO will bring this military structure face-to-face with many obstacles.”

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