2:54 am - Saturday November 7, 2015

Iran accuses Israel of benefiting from strife in Egypt, after attacks in jihadist-ridden Sinai

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Iran has condemned violence in the Sinai Peninsula that left dozens of Egyptian security personnel dead on Friday, accusing Israel of benefiting from insecurity in the volatile region that weakens the government in Cairo.On Friday, security sources said two attacks in the Sinai region killed 33 security personnel, in some of the worst anti-state violence since Islamist President Mohamed Morsi was overthrown last year.

The Islamic Republic’s Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Marziyeh Afkham expressed her hope that Cairo would prevent Tehran’s arch-foe Israel from “spreading sedition” among the Egyptian population, Iran’s official IRNA news agency reported on Saturday.

When the Egyptian army ousted Morsi from power in July 2013, Tehran criticized the move, drawing a hostile response from Cairo.

Under Morsi, ties between the two countries seemed to improve, with the then Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad becoming the first Iranian leader to visit Egypt in more than three decades. He called for a strategic alliance with Egypt and offered Cairo a loan to ease a deepening economic crisis.

Iran and Egypt cut formal diplomatic relations in 1980 after Tehran was angered by Egypt’s admission of the deposed Shah of Iran and Egypt’s recognition of Israel.

The violence prompted Egypt to declare a three-month state of emergency in parts of North Sinai, where the violence took place, the state news agency reported.

“Emergency law is announced in the areas specified — to the east from the hill of Rafah through to the line of the international border, until al-Oga and West from West Arish through the sea coast and until the international borders in Rafah,” Egyptian news reported.

The attacks are a setback for the government, which had managed over the past few months to make some progress in the struggle against an Islamist militant insurgency in the Sinai as it focuses on trying to repair the economy.

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