Egyptian media is reporting that Mohammed Morsi, the new Muslim Brotherhood President-elect of Egypt, is denying that he gave an interview to an Iranian news agency in which he was supposed to have said that Egypt would seek closer relations with Iran. According to a Bikyamasr report:
27 June 2012 CAIRO: Egypt’s President-elect Mohamed Morsi on Wednesday said he would take legal action against Iran’s Fars news agency over an interview that was fabricated and published by the news agency, Egypt’s official MENA news agency said. An aide to Morsi on Tuesday had been reported by Al Jazeera saying that he was not interviewed by Iran’s Fars news agency. Speaking to reporters, Yasser Ali said that the comments published by the news agency have ‘no basis in truth.’ Egypt’s state-run MENA news agency also supported the Morsi aide’s claim, denying that the ‘President of the Republic had any interview with the agency from Iran.’ The Iran news agency has since published the audio recording of the alleged interview online, but reports suggest that the voice claiming to be Morsi ‘does not conform’ to Morsi’s, MENA reported. On Monday, the Iranian news agency reported Morsi saying he wants to boost relations between the country and Iran in the near future. According to the agency’s report, Morsi was quoted as saying that he pledged to increase relations with Iran to create a ‘strategic balance in the region.’ ‘Part of my agenda is the development of ties between Iran and Egypt that will create a strategic balance in the region,’ Morsi, who comes from Egypt’s long-repressed Muslim Brotherhood, was quoted as saying. Fars, which is closely linked to Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guards, said the full interview would be published at a later date. It said Morsi spoke with a Fars reporter in Cairo on Sunday before results were released giving him victory in the election to be Egypt’s next president. Although Morsi resigned from the Muslim Brotherhood to take the top job, Israel remains wary of his election, fearing his Islamist record could jeopardize its three-decade peace deal with its huge neighbor.But Morsi, on Sunday evening in his first national address post-election results, said he would respect all treaties established by Egypt, ostensibly including the Camp David accords with Israel.
Whether or not the interview is authentic, there are reasons to believe that Egypt under a Muslim Brotherhood government will seek closer ties to Iran. 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.