Mahmoud Ahmadinejad flies into trouble in Egypt as ally is arrested in Tehran

Turmoil at home as Iranian leader makes first visit to Cairo since Tehran's 1979 revolution

The Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has arrived in Egypt on a landmark visit, leaving behind open political warfare in Iran that has resulted in the arrest of Tehran’s former chief prosecutor.

Mr Ahmadinejad was welcomed by the Egyptian President, Mohamed Morsi, during the first visit to Egypt by an Iranian leader since Tehran's 1979 revolution. But officials played down expectations of an imminent restoration of diplomatic ties between the Shia and Sunni nations. The two leaders' 20-minute conversation focused on the Syrian civil war, in which they back opposing sides.

Visiting Cairo to attend an Islamic summit that begins on Wednesday, Mr Ahmadinejad told a news conference he hoped his trip would be "a new starting point in relations between us". But the most prominent cleric in Egypt, Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb at al-Azhar University, said after meeting Mr Ahmadinejad that Iran should not assist attempts to topple the Sunni royal family in Bahrain.

Tonight, a man was being held after he attempted to throw a shoe at Mr Ahmadinejad outside the Al-Hussein mosque in Cairo. Turkey's Anatolia news agency published a video of the incident which showed the young man shouting and attempting to hit the President's head with what appeared to be a brown loafer.

Mr Ahmadinejad's visit removes him briefly from the turmoil of Iranian politics, which erupted on Sunday after the President accused one of his conservative rivals of corruption. Mr Ahmadinejad told parliament that he had a video of the speaker Ali Larijani's brother attempting to bribe the former prosecutor Saeed Mortazavi over a business deal involving the speaker. But when challenged to play it, the sound was of such poor quality that Mr Ahmadinejad was forced to provide a running commentary, depriving the tape of much of its impact.

Mr Mortazavi, an Ahmadinejad ally, was arrested on Monday night. "[Iran's] political elite is now embroiled in open infighting," said Ali Ansari, a professor of Iranian history at St Andrews University. "The big question now is whether Khamenei is losing control," he said, referring to Iran's spiritual leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Ali Larijani, who ran for president in 2005, and Mr Ahmadinejad have long been rivals. It was not clear whether the former prosecutor – who was suspended from that post over the deaths of three anti-government protesters in 2009 – had been arrested in connection with the 2009 deaths or on corruption charges. But Mr Ansari said that Mr Ahmadinejad "will go down fighting. And he could take a lot of people with him." Although the President is barred from running for a third term in elections next June, political manoeuvring is already under way and Mr Larijani is expected to be a candidate. It is not yet clear, however, who will be supported by the spiritual leader.

According to Mr Ansari, "people are looking for a scapegoat. But it's not clear that Ahmadinejad is the only one."

Reserve funds fall to $13.6bn

Egypt’s foreign currency reserves fell 10 per cent to $13.61bn (£8.5bn) in January, down $1.4bn in a single month.

The central bank had already warned late last year that levels hovering around $15bn represented a “critical minimum,” or just enough to cover three months’ worth of imports. The drop hampers Egypt’s ability to implement the austerity measures it needs to qualify for a $4.8bn IMF loan.

The central bank has been using foreign reserves to prop up the Egyptian pound at a level many experts saw as overvalued. AP

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Analyst - 12 Month FTC - Entry Level

£23000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Analyst is required ...

Recruitment Genius: Chefs - All Levels

£16000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To succeed, you will need to ha...

Recruitment Genius: Maintenance Engineer

£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join an award winni...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive & Customer Service - Call Centre Jobs!

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

Day In a Page

Isis in Syria: Influential tribal leaders hold secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over possibility of mobilising against militants

Tribal gathering

Influential clans in Syria have held secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over the possibility of mobilising against Isis. But they are determined not to be pitted against each other
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians
Dozens of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen linked to Indian bribery scandal die mysteriously

Illnesses, car crashes and suicides

Dozens of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen linked to Indian bribery scandal die mysteriously
Srebrenica 20 years after the genocide: Why the survivors need closure

Bosnia's genocide, 20 years on

No-one is admitting where the bodies are buried - literally and metaphorically
How Comic-Con can make or break a movie: From Batman vs Superman to Star Wars: Episode VII

Power of the geek Gods

Each year at Comic-Con in San Diego, Hollywood bosses nervously present blockbusters to the hallowed crowd. It can make or break a movie
What do strawberries and cream have to do with tennis?

Perfect match

What do strawberries and cream have to do with tennis?
10 best trays

Get carried away with 10 best trays

Serve with ceremony on a tray chic carrier
Wimbledon 2015: Team Murray firing on all cylinders for SW19 title assault

Team Murray firing on all cylinders for title assault

Coaches Amélie Mauresmo and Jonas Bjorkman aiming to make Scot Wimbledon champion again
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Vasek Pospisil must ignore tiredness and tell himself: I'm in the quarter-final, baby!

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

Vasek Pospisil must ignore tiredness and tell himself: I'm in the quarter-final, baby!
Ashes 2015: Angus Fraser's top 10 moments from previous series'

Angus Fraser's top 10 Ashes moments

He played in five series against Australia and covered more as a newspaper correspondent. From Waugh to Warne and Hick to Headley, here are his highlights
Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

Heavy weather

What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

World Bodypainting Festival 2015

Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

Don't call us nerds

Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high