Following the uncovering of a Tehran-sponsored Hizbullah network in Egypt, Israeli experts warn that Iran's reach in the Middle East is growing rapidly, and that other terror cells still operate in Sinai and in the heart of Egypt.
"Other cells operate in Egypt. The one that was uncovered is neither the first nor the last, and so there is still the danger of an attack against the Israeli Embassy in Cairo," estimated Lit.-Col Moshe Marzouk of the International Institute for Counter-Terrorist at the Herzliya Interdisciplinary Center.
"Egypt's territory has become no man's land for the smuggling of money, weapons and terror cells. In fact, because of the difficulties in transporting arms, Hizbullah and the Iranians have built rocket production workshops in Sinai.
"However, until now the Egyptians preferred not to act against the cells, assuming they do not pose a threat to the Egyptian regime but rather meant for Gaza," he added.
Pro-Hizbullah protest in Tehran (Photo: AFP)
"Now it has become clear that the terror infrastructure was planning to carry out attacks against Israeli targets in the heart of Egypt, while ignoring the sovereignty of the local government, and by this it crossed a red line.
"It in effect proved false Nasrallah's claim that the cell was only there in order to help the Palestinians and support Hamas," Marzouk explained.
According to Marzouk, the Iranian grip on Egypt was rooted so deeply that it was doubtful that Mubarak's regime would be able to confront it. "The terror network is just part of the second stage of the Islamic revolution, whose goal is not only to take over Iran like in Khomeini's days, but also to export the revolution to the Muslim countries of the region.
"Iran has started pouring money into the Arab countries years ago, in a bid to establish ideological-religious infrastructure that would help topple the Sunni regimes."
Israel and Egypt's common enemies
However, Marzouk does not believe that Egypt will follow in Morocco's footsteps and sever ties with Iran over its subversive endeavors. "The relations between Egypt and Iran are so bad that such an act would be merely a formality. Another reason is Israel. Such a move would make Egypt appear as it maintains ties with Israel, and with Lieberman as its foreign minister, wile turning its back on Iran," he concluded.
Ephraim Kam, deputy head of the Institute for National Security Studies, said the recent activity to crush terror infrastructure in Egypt won't be the last.
"Egypt has three problems: The Muslim Brotherhood, al-Qaeda strongholds in Sinai, and Iranian involvement in undermining the Egyptian regime," Kam explained.
"The Egyptians suffered a difficult wave of terror between '92 and '97, mainly from extremist Islamic organizations, and have managed to overcome this through the use of force," he said, "Ever since that wave subsided, the Egyptians fear it would rise again, so they are working vigorously to prevent that."
It seems that, indirectly, Israel has the most to gain from the Hizbullah-Iran conflict with Egypt, Kam added.
"The bad news for Israel that comes for the exposure of the Hizbullah infrastructure is that the organization is doing everything in its power to boost Hamas and hit Israeli targets, but the good news is that Egypt is openly going out against Hizbullah and Iran. As long as this trend continues, we will, indirectly, benefit from it," Kam explained.
"Actually, the leading Arab state is going out against activity that is damaging to us. Meaning, there is indirect dialogue between us and Egypt regarding three common enemies: Iran, Hizbullah and Hamas," he added.