Egyptian President Slams Syrian President At Tehran Summit


U.S. media is reporting on what is called a “a stinging rebuke” of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria delivered at the Nonaligned Movement summit meeting held last week in Tehran. According to a New York Times report:

Published: August 30, 2012 58 — Iran’s triumphal stewardship of the Nonaligned Movement summit meeting here veered off script on Thursday when the two most prominently featured guest speakers — President Mohamed Morsi of Egypt and the United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon — denounced the repression of the armed uprising in Syria, a close Iranian ally.  Syria’s foreign minister walked out in protest over Mr. Morsi’s remarks at the meeting, the largest international conference in Iran since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Iranian leaders have portrayed the meeting, attended by delegations from 120 countries, as a validation of Iran’s importance in the world and a rejection of Western attempts to ostracize it. Mr. Ban added further embarrassment to the Iranian hosts by publicly upbraiding them in his speech for threatening to annihilate Israel and for describing the Holocaust as a politically motivated myth. ‘I strongly reject threats by any member state to destroy another or outrageous attempts to deny historical facts, such as the Holocaust,’ Mr. Ban said.In what appeared to signal Iran’s effort to avoid public friction over the Syrian conflict that would detract from the tone of the Nonaligned conference, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, opened the day with a welcoming speech that conspicuously avoided any mention of Syria. But the subsequent speeches by Mr. Morsi and Mr. Ban refocused attention on it. Mr. Morsi, Egypt’s new Islamist president, whose decision to accept Iran’s invitation to attend the meeting was considered a major victory by the Iranians, likened the uprising in Syria to the revolutions that swept away longtime leaders in North Africa like Mr. Morsi’s own predecessor in Egypt, Hosni Mubarak. ‘The Syrian people are fighting with courage, looking for freedom and human dignity,’ Mr. Morsi said, suggesting that all parties at the gathering shared responsibility for the bloodshed. ‘We must all be fully aware that this will not stop unless we act.’ Mr. Morsi, pointedly, did not mention unrest in Bahrain, possibly to avoid offending Saudi Arabia, which has helped Bahrain’s monarchy suppress the uprising. With the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, sitting beside him, Mr. Morsi delivered a stinging rebuke of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, whom Mr. Ahmadinejad and other Iranian leaders have staunchly defended throughout the conflict. ‘Our solidarity with the children of beloved Syria against an oppressive regime that has lost its legitimacy is a moral duty as much as a political and strategic necessity that stems from our belief in a coming future for the free proud Syria,’ Mr. Morsi said. ‘And we must all offer our complete, undiminished support for the struggle for freedom and justice in Syria, and to translate our sympathy into a clear political vision that supports peaceful transition to a democratic government,’ he said.

Read the rest here.

For a full transcript of the speech, go here.

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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