AFP: Iranian intelligence services were responsible for kidnapping and killing Egypt’s top diplomat in Iraq two years ago, the state-owned flagship daily Al-Ahram reported Sunday. CAIRO, Jan 28, 2007 (AFP) – Iranian intelligence services were responsible for kidnapping and killing Egypt’s top diplomat in Iraq two years ago, the state-owned flagship daily Al-Ahram reported Sunday.
Ihab al-Sherif, Egypt’s ambassador-designate to Iraq, was kidnapped and reported killed at the behest of Iranian intelligence on July 2005 in effort to “cut the legs” of Egypt’s presence in Iraq, said unnamed diplomatic sources quoted by the newspaper.
The front-page story was reported from the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa where Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit is representing Egypt at the the annual African Union summit.
The “diplomatic sources” said that Egypt, Jordan and the Gulf countries supported the new US plan to stabilise Iraq in order to “rescue brother Muslims from sectarian cleansing, especially in Baghdad, at the hands of armed militias whose loyalties are well known.”
Sunni Arab countries have expressed increasing disquiet over attacks on Iraq’s Sunni minority by Shiite militias, believed to be supported by Iran.
The report came as US officials announced a new effort against Iranian agents in Iraq, authorising the use of deadly force against them.
Tehran cut diplomatic ties with Cairo after Iran’s Islamic revolution in 1979 to protest at Egypt’s peace deal with Israel and its decision to provide temporary refuge for the deposed shah.
Relations between Egypt and Iran, seen as rivals for influence in the Middle East, have see-sawed since then.
A cautious warming trend has foundered in recent years, however, over the situation in Iraq and on January 11, President Hosni Mubarak issued a stern warning to Tehran to stay out of Iraq.
“Iran is trying to gain support in Iraq and in the region and I say to all: don’t touch Iraq,” Mubarak said in remarks carried by the Egyptian weekly Al-Osboa.