Egyptian President To Visit Iran


U.S. media is reporting that Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi will attend the meeting of the Nonaligned Movement to beheld in Tehran at the end of the month. According to an AP report:

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Published: August 18, 2012  CAIRO (AP) — President Mohamed Morsi will attend a summit meeting in Iran this month, a presidential official said Saturday, the first such trip for an Egyptian leader since relations with Iran deteriorated decades ago.The visit could begin a thaw between the countries after years of ill will, especially since 1979 with the Egypt-Israel peace treaty and Iran’s Islamic Revolution. Under Mr. Morsi’s predecessor, Hosni Mubarak, Egypt, which is predominantly Sunni Muslim, sided with Saudi Arabia and other Sunni-dominated Arab states in trying to isolate Shiite-led Iran. Until now, contacts have been channeled through low-level forms of diplomatic representation. Last year, the interim military council that was then governing Egypt, expelled an Iranian diplomat on suspicion that he was trying to set up spy rings. It is too early to assess the implications of the visit or to what extent Egypt may normalize relations with Iran, but analysts believe it will bring Egypt back to the regional political stage.The official said that Mr. Morsi would visit Tehran on Aug. 30 to attend the Nonaligned Movement meeting, where Egypt will transfer the movement’s rotating leadership to Iran. The movement was established during the cold war to advocate for developing nations.

A post from June reported that President Morsi denied 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.  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.

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