The National, a UAE-based newspaper, has posted an article titled ” “Iran-Brotherhood ties: rooted in history with eye on the future” which reviews the history of and prospects for the relationship between Iran and the Global Muslim Brotherhood. The article begins:
A salient feature of Iran’s foreign policy is its ability to build influence where least expected. With the ascent to power of Sunni Islamists throughout the region, and Iran’s support of the military campaign in Syria, many have argued that Iran’s regional standing is in decline. But the opposite assessment needs to be taken seriously. Iran has been upbeat about the popular revolts, dubbing them an ‘Islamic Awakening’ and confident it can build strong ties with the people of the region after the demise of dictatorial rule in the Arab republics. That prospect is particularly true with the Muslim Brotherhood and its offshoots throughout the region – including even those that currently perceive Iran as an enemy, such as the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood. A closer look at the historical links and ideological similarities between Tehran’s mullahs and Arab Islamists shows that not only could Iran build ties with the emerging political forces in the region, but that it could develop a sustainable special relationship. One of the first encounters between the Muslim Brotherhood and Iranian figures who later helped to bring about Iran’s current regime was in Cairo, in 1954. Sayyid Navvab Safavi, an Iranian leader of the anti-Shah Fadayan-e Islam, met with senior Brotherhood members to bolster ties. Salim Al Bahnsawi, a Brotherhood intellectual who died in 2006, said of the meeting: ‘It’s not surprising that the similarities in approach between the two groups led to this cooperation’. And Rashid Ghannouchi, leader of the Ennahda Movement in Tunisia, has even described Fadayan-e Islam as an offshoot of the Brotherhood.”
Read the rest here.
A post from August reported that Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi was scheduled to attend the meeting of the Nonaligned Movement to beheld in Tehran at the end of the month. 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.