As Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadineajd announced he would run for another four-year term, Egypt accused the Islamic Republic of, along with Hamas and Hezbollah, of using Gaza to provoke conflict in the Middle East.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit slammed them in an interview with a satellite channel broadcast on Wednesday and said that Egypt had undermined Qatar's attempts to arrange a formal Arab summit on Gaza earlier this month because it would have damaged "joint Arab action."
"(They tried) to turn the region to confrontation in the interest of Iran, which is trying to use its cards to escape Western pressure ... on the nuclear file," he said, referring to Iran, the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas and the Lebanese Shiite group Hezbolllah.
"Egypt made the summit fail," he added. "This summit, if it had taken place as an Arab summit with a proper quorum, would have damaged joint Arab action. We can see what others do not see," he said.
The comments are the first acknowledgement by Egypt that it actively sought to prevent the Doha summit on Jan. 16, which was the subject of a bitter tug-of-war between rival Arab states.
It also indicated that a reconciliation meeting in Kuwait last week between Egypt and Saudi Arabia on one hand, and Qatar and Syria on the other had only a short-term effect.
Qatar failed to win enough support to hold a formal Arab League summit on Gaza but it went ahead anyway with an informal consultative meeting of Arab leaders.
The wrangling reflected deep divisions between Arab governments. On one side Saudi Arabia and Egypt, wary of the Islamist group Hamas in Gaza, favored discussing Gaza at a separate economic summit in Kuwait a few days later.
The Egyptian minister also criticized Hamas for what he called its coup against the forces of the Palestinian Authority in the Gaza Strip in 2007.
Diplomats say Egypt resents the Qatari challenge to its traditional role as leading Arab mediator and dislikes the influence of the satellite television channel Al Jazeera, which is based in Doha and owned by the Qatari government.
"Some people imagined that a satellite channel could bring down the Egyptian state, without realizing that Egypt is much stronger than that," Aboul Gheit said.
Ahmadinejad is to run for a second four-year term in an election just five months away, a close aide told Reuters on Wednesday
“Naturally (Ahmadinejad) will become a candidate for the next election and will put himself before the people's vote. Of course he is doing this to complete his duties," Aliakbar Javanfekr, a close aide to the president said in the first official confirmation on the matter.
The 52-year old Iranian president, a former mayor of Tehran, surprised political pundits when he beat Iran's heavyweight former president and leading cleric Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani in a run-off election in 2005.