Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

Where Will Morsi’s Embrace of Ahmadinejad Lead?

August 24, 2012 1:29 pm 0 comments

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Photo: wiki commons.

After Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi embraced Iranian President Muhammad Ahmadinejad at the summit of the Organization of Islamic States Saudi Arabia, sources in the office of the Egyptian presidency announced that Morsi was planning to visit Tehran for the summit of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) at the end of August. The NAM grouping of mostly Third World countries was first established in 1961 as a neutral alternative to the West and the Soviet bloc. This year it is holding its meeting with heads of state in Iran.

This would be the first visit of an Egyptian president to Iran since the fall of the Shah and the Islamic Revolution that followed in 1979. The reports of Morsi’s possible visit to Tehran have generated wide speculation whether he, as the first Egyptian president from the Muslim Brotherhood, could manage to pull off a major reconciliation between Sunni Muslims, led by Egypt, and the Shiites, led by Iran.

This reconciliation has been an aspiration of the Muslim Brotherhood since the days of its founder, Hassan al-Banna. There were also Iranian militants who modeled their organizations on the Muslim Brotherhood, like the Iranian “Fedayeen of Islam” and their assassination squads who operated in the 1940s. In fact, it was no less than Ayatollah Ali Khamenei who translated into Persian the writings of the Muslim Brotherhood’s chief ideologue Sayyid Qutb, who was put to death by the Egyptians in 1966. The admiration between the two Islamist movements was mutual. After the 2006 Second Lebanon War, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, and its previous general guide, Muhammad Mahdi Akef, began to openly support Iran.

But despite this history, there are presently a number of challenges that will make any Sunni-Shiite reconciliation facilitated by President Morsi a daunting task. First, of all there is the Syrian uprising and its likely impact on the Arab world in the years ahead. It is now indisputable that Iran is not only backing the regime of Bashar al-Assad with funding and weapons. Tehran is also deploying its Revolutionary Guards on the ground and they are involved in attacks on Syrian civilians.

In other words, from Homs to Allepo, Iranian Shiite soldiers are killing Sunni Arabs. These Persian-speaking troops have launched a blood vendetta with the Sunni Arab world that will not be quickly forgotten. How Morsi can embrace the Iranian leadership in Tehran who are responsible for the deaths of thousands of Sunni Arabs, including members of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, is difficult to fathom.

Second, within the Muslim Brotherhood there are still powerful voices who opposed any reconciliation with Iran. Since 2008, Sheikh Youssef Qaradawi, regarded as the spiritual head of the Global Muslim Brotherhood, has warned that the Shiites want “to invade” Sunni societies with the backing of Iran and convert Sunnis to Shia Islam. He also described the Shiites as heretics. His language played on the insecurity of Sunni Arabs who felt that with the fall of Saddam Hussein, they had lost control of Iraq which came under the domination of its Shiite majority.

A third constraint on any reconciliation between the Sunnis and the Shiites, led by Iran, comes from the Gulf states, led by Saudi Arabia. The Saudis have no illusions about Iran’s goals and its use of Shiite Islam to threaten their vital interests. The perpetrators of the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing, according to U.S. court documents, were Saudi Shiites who were recruited and trained by Hezbollah in Lebanon. Their orders came from senior levels in the Iranian government.

This year the U.S. disclosed a plot by the Revolutionary Guards to use a Mexican drug cartel to kill the Saudi ambassador in Washington. In the meantime, Saudi Arabia is waging a proxy war with Iran over the Shiite rebellion in Bahrain; in Yemen, where Zayidi Shiites have been engaged in an insurgency against the Yemeni government; and in Syria, where both Saudi Arabia and Qatar are supplying the war against Assad’s Alawite regime, which as already noted, has been terrorizing Syrian Sunnis.

Thus if Morsi wants to build a new relationship with Iran, he will face serious problems with Riyadh, to whom he has recently turned for financial help. There have been reports that, in the end, one should not be surprised if Morsi does not go to Tehran, but his calculations will undoubtedly be influenced by the fact that United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has decided to attend the NAM summit. Whatever Morsi decides, it will take a great deal more than a hug with Ahmadinejad, for the Muslim Brotherhood to alter the relations between Iran and the Sunni Arab states.
This post first appeared in Israel Hayom.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition. Comments written in all caps will be deleted.

Current day month ye@r *


  • Arts and Culture Features Jerry Seinfeld to Make Comedy Debut in Israel

    Jerry Seinfeld to Make Comedy Debut in Israel – Famed Jewish-American comedian and actor Jerry Seinfeld is slated to make his comedic debut in Israel later this year. Seinfeld, who was born in Brooklyn to Jewish parents from the Ukraine and Syria, will perform in Tel Aviv’s Mitvtachim Menorah Arena on Dec. 19 as part of a world tour. The comedian is most known for his enormously popular NBC sitcom Seinfeld, which ran from 1989-1998 and is widely considered one of the greatest TV series of all time. […]

    Read more →
  • Features Food American Kids Taste Israeli Food, Offer Tidbits About the Country (VIDEO)

    American Kids Taste Israeli Food, Offer Tidbits About the Country (VIDEO)

    A new video circulating online shows eight American children reacting — mostly positively — to their first taste of Israeli eggplant salad/dip, known in Hebrew as “salat hatzilim” and in other parts of the Levant as baba ganoush. The clip, by, features U.S. youngsters given a plate with schnitzel, slices of pita, hummus and baba ganoush. “If someone had a name like that, they’d be so sad,” one boy said, mispronouncing it as “ba-ga-doosh.” A few of the kids were able to identify correctly the elements on the plate […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Features Pioneers/Philanthropists ‘Start-Up Nation’ Israel to Host Forbes Magazine Young Entrepreneurs Summit

    ‘Start-Up Nation’ Israel to Host Forbes Magazine Young Entrepreneurs Summit – Forbes magazine announced Tuesday that it will host its Under 30 EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) Summit in Israel for the first time in April 2016. The conference is expected to bring together some 600 young entrepreneurs, with 200 from Europe, 200 from the U.S., and 200 from Israel. The summit has been hosted in Philadelphia for the past two years. It will include presentations, speeches, a pitch competition, and cultural immersion opportunities in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Beliefs and concepts What’s That Huge White Bridal Dress Floating Over the Tower of David?

    What’s That Huge White Bridal Dress Floating Over the Tower of David? –  “What’s that huge white bridal dress floating over the Tower of David?” That’s what visitors to Jerusalem’s Old City asked last week. The wedding gown, created by leading Israeli artist Motti Mizrachi, is part of the 2nd Jerusalem Biennale for Contemporary Jewish Art, an event that blew into town as the Sukkot holiday got underway. Mizrachi, who lives and works in Tel Aviv, created the dress that floats majestically over the Tower of David, the main exhibition site […]

    Read more →
  • Features Opinion The Top 10 Places to Visit in Israel

    The Top 10 Places to Visit in Israel

    Israel is a holiday destination on many travelers’ bucket lists. No matter the style of holiday you are after, Israel has the answer. Whether you prefer to relax by the beach, hike up mountains in the desert, visit religious and historical sites, eat your way through the country or just enjoy some retail therapy, your journey through Israel will be one to remember. While there are obviously so many things to see and do, here is a list of 10 of […]

    Read more →
  • Pioneers/Philanthropists US & Canada Jewish American Fashion Mogul Ralph Lauren to Step Down as CEO

    Jewish American Fashion Mogul Ralph Lauren to Step Down as CEO – Jewish American fashion mogul Ralph Lauren announced his plan to step down as chief executive officer of the renowned fashion brand. The head of Gap Inc’s Old Navy brand will take over the position. The 75-year-old Lauren, who founded Ralph Lauren Corp. in 1967, will continue to serve as executive chairman and will continue leading the fashion house’s design team, according to a statement by the company. After the announcement, Ralph Lauren shares rose 3.79 percent while Gap shares […]

    Read more →
  • Featured Sports US & Canada Jewish Boxer Dustin ‘White Tiger’ Fleischer Scores Fourth Knockout Victory

    Jewish Boxer Dustin ‘White Tiger’ Fleischer Scores Fourth Knockout Victory

    Jewish boxer Dustin Fleischer, who said his quest is to become the first world champion descended from a Holocaust survivor, stayed unbeaten with a first-round knockout. Fleischer, nicknamed “The White Tiger,” moved to 4-0 with the defeat of Ira Frank on Saturday night in Beach Haven, New Jersey, near his home, he reported after the fight on his Facebook page. The 26-year-old welterweight has won all his bouts by knockout. Read full story at JTA.

    Read more →
  • Featured Israel Pioneers/Philanthropists Meet Israel’s Santa Claus, the Trustee Tasked With Handing Out Leona Helmsley’s Billions (INTERVIEW)

    Meet Israel’s Santa Claus, the Trustee Tasked With Handing Out Leona Helmsley’s Billions (INTERVIEW)

    Renowned New York attorney Sandor (Sandy) Frankel, one of four trustees of the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, was in Israel earlier this month to look at additional philanthropic options and to observe the progress of those endeavors already funded – to the tune of multi-millions. Frankel, who recently joined the prestigious Park Avenue law firm Otterbourg P.C., met with Israeli politicians and other bigwigs to get a sense from them about which projects in the country […]

    Read more →