Egypt’s former President, Hosni Mubarak, feared the spread of Shiite influence in his country and the region even though he did want strong ties with Iran, according to the former Egyptian foreign minister Ahmed Aboul-Gheit.
Aboul-Gheit told Al Arabiya that Egypt was watching Iran’s influence in the country closely along with Shiite Islamic institutions being founded in African countries bordering Egypt such as Chad and Sudan.
“We are watching, through our embassies in African countries, how Iran keeps expanding and branching out through their Shiite institutions as well as supporting them with a lot of money,” the former foreign minister said. In his interview, Aboul-Gheit says that such institutions and financial support is dangerous to the security of the region due to possible demonstrations and protests that Iran could instigate.
During the Islamic summit in Jeddah in 2005, "Mubarak didn't like confrontations, when I told him that Ahmadinejad wanted to meet him, he didn't welcome the idea," the former minister said.
"Mubarak came in the middle of the summit session and left immediately just to avoid any meeting with the Iranian president," he added.
According to Aboul-Gheit, the former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami was a voice of moderation and when he met with Mubarak, he managed to leave the toppled Egyptian president with a good impression that led to an improved diplomatic relationship between the two countries.
“Mubarak wanted his envoy to Iran to be an experienced politician who can understand the historical and regional conflict with Iran,“Aboul-Gheit stated.