Canadian media is reporting that Egypt’s new Muslim Brotherhood President elect has said that he wants to “reconsider”’ the peace deal with Israel and build ties with Iran to ‘create a strategic balance’ in the Middle East. According to a report in the The National:
National Post Wire Services Jun 25, 2012 – 8:56 AM ET . Egypt’s Islamist president-elect, Mohammed Morsi, wants to ‘reconsider’ the peace deal with Israel and build ties with Iran to ‘create a strategic balance’ in the Middle East, according to an interview published by Iran’s Fars news agency on Monday. The stated goals are certain to alarm Israel and its ally the United States as they adapt to the new direction Egypt will chart with Morsi at the helm. They could also boost Iran’s influence in the Middle East at a time of heightened tensions between Tehran and the West. ‘We will reconsider the Camp David Accord’ that, in 1979, forged a peace between Egypt and Israel that has held for more than three decades, Morsi was quoted as telling a Fars reporter in Cairo on Sunday, just before his election triumph was announced. He said the issue of Palestinian refugees returning to homes their families abandoned in the 1948 Arab-Israeli war and the 1967 Six-Day War ‘is very important.’ Morsi added though that ‘all these issues will be carried out through cabinet and governmental bodies because I will not take any decision on my own.’ Morsi also said he was ready to improve ties with Iran. The Islamic republic broke off diplomatic relations with Egypt in 1980, a year after Cairo signed the peace deal with the Jewish state. ‘Part of my agenda is the development of ties between Iran and Egypt that will create a strategic balance in the region,’ Morsi was quoted as saying. Although Morsi resigned from Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood to take the top job, Israel is wary of his election, fearing his Islamist record could jeopardise the chilly peace it has long enjoyed with its huge neighbor. Iran’s foreign ministry on Sunday welcomed Morsi’s triumph. Its message made no mention, however, of Iran and Egypt resuming diplomatic ties. Iran’s clerical leadership contends that the Arab Spring that toppled veteran Egyptian strongman Hosni Mubarak and other longtime U.S. allies in the Arab world last year was inspired by its own 1979 Islamic revolution. Although Iran’s predominant faith is Shi’ite Islam and the Muslim Brotherhood adheres to the Sunni branch of Islam, Tehran has been reaching out to the organization in Egypt in recent months. Iran’s armed forces chief of staff, General Hassan Firouzabadi, on Monday was quoted by IRNA as echoing the Muslim Brotherhood’s rejection of moves by Egypt’s military to dissolve the Islamist-led parliament and to give itself a greater say over government policy and the constitution. ‘The actions of the military council in Egypt, which considers itself to be selected by Mubarak, lack legal validity and political legitimacy,’ Firouzabadi said. Morsi toured his palatial new residence Monday — where ousted Mubarak once lived — and began work to form a coalition government. The Islamist faces the challenge of meeting sky-high expectations in a nation tired of turmoil while the economy is on the ropes. But his campaign pledge to complete the revolution that toppled Mubarak last year but left the pillars of his rule intact will come up against the entrenched interests of the generals who have been in charge of the transition to democracy.
Read the rest here.
In February 2011, the Daily Caller interviewed the GMBDW and one of the questions asked and answered was:
If the Muslim Brotherhood took control of Egypt (or was at least a significant influence in the government), how would Egypt’s foreign policy change? Do you believe war with Israel would be a serious possibility?
Clearly Egyptian foreign policy would change, although exactly how is again a matter of speculation. That said, the Brotherhood is implacably opposed to Israel and, less well known, views itself in a cosmic struggle with worldwide Judaism, viewed by the Brotherhood as dead set on the destruction of Islam. As for going to war with Israel, Egypt is not in a position economically to put itself entirely at odds with the West given its reliance on U.S. aid, tourism, and economic relationships. However, rational economic calculus is not always in operation. The most likely result is an attempt to bring Egypt into the Syria/Iran/Hamas axis which would certainly make life more difficult for U.S. policy makers. Also, it is unlikely that Egypt under Muslim Brotherhood influence would continue the close count-terrorism cooperation with the U.S.
We did not foresee the events in Syria but closer relations between the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and Iran were predictable.
In a 2009 piece titled “Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and Iran, Rapprochement between Sunnis and Shiites?”, Washington Institute for Near East Policy scholar Mehdi Khalaji looked at the relationship between the Egyptian government, the Muslim Brotherhood and Iran. According to the report:
During a February trip to Iran, Hamas leader Khaled Mashal praised Iranian leaders for their support during the conflict in the Gaza Strip, a further indication of the strengthening ties between the Sunni Islamist group, which the United States has designated as a terrorist organization, and the Shiite regime in Tehran. Mashal’s statements come on the heels of the U.S. Treasury Department’s terrorist designations of al-Qaeda leaders and operatives sheltered in Iran. These latest examples of Sunni-Shiite cooperation raise new questions about whether Iran can improve its relationship with Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood. While such a rapprochement appears unlikely, history suggests it is far from impossible. Iran has maintained informal ties to the Muslim Brotherhood for many years, and Shiite Islam probably has more appeal among Egyptian Sunnis than it does among Sunnis in other Arab countries. Iran’s sharp criticism of Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak is also likely to resonate with Egyptian radicals under the thumb of the regime in Cairo. If Iran were to develop close relations with the Brotherhood, Iranian influence would grow considerably in the Arab world, giving Tehran a significant say among Arab radicals and, undoubtedly, producing dangerous developments for U.S. interests in the region.
A previous post had also looked at the possibility of a closer relationship between the Egyptian Brotherhood and Iran.