Morsi to Visit Iran 'for the Syrian People'
Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi’s upcoming visit to Tehran is aimed at pressuring Iran to stop supporting Syrian President Bashar Assad, an official with the Muslim Brotherhood claimed on Monday.
Speaking to the website of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, the movement’s Secretary General Dr. Mahmoud Hussein said that President Morsi is expected to raise the Syrian issue in his talks with the Iranian leadership during the summit of the non-aligned nations in Tehran.
Hussein said that Morsi will demand that Iran cease its military, economic and political support of Assad. He added that the normalization of relations between Cairo and Tehran depends on several factors, including the termination of Iranian support for Assad. Hussein stressed that Egypt will not allow Iran to spread Shiite ideology in Sunni countries.
Morsi announced last week that he will visit Tehran for the summit, after a 32-year break in ties between the two Muslim countries.
Cairo and Tehran broke off relations after the overthrow of the Shah in the Islamic Revolution and Egypt’s recognition of Israel in 1979.
The move caused concerns that by visiting Iran, Morsi would solidify the “terror axis” of Iran – Hizbullah, Syria and Hizbullah-dominated Lebanon in the north and Hamas to the south of Israel.
Arab affairs expert Dalit Halevi reported that criticism has recently been directed at Egypt by the rebels in Syria and other Islamic groups which have accused Egypt of having betrayed the Syrian people by warming up to Iran, which has consistently supported Assad.
Halevi also reported that a Salafi Islamic organization wrote a letter to Morsi which stated: “The mere participation in the Tehran summit means turning against the isolated Syrian people and supporting Iran, which is a partner in the Syrian bloodshed, as well as the criminal Bashar Assad in Damascus.”
Morsi’s spokesperson Yasser Ali said last week that Egypt and Iran won’t be reinstating normal diplomatic relations any time soon.
Ali said that Morsi’s visit to Tehran for the Non-Alignment Summit is protocol, not a sign of changing diplomacy.
He added that Morsi made his position clear when discussing the situation in Syria at the summit of Muslim leaders held earlier this month in Mecca, which was attended by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
At the summit, Morsi suggested forming a contact group between Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Turkey to tackle the crisis in Syria. However, Morsi would not support military intervention in Syria.
Iran's Foreign Minister, Ali Akbar Salehi, told Egypt’s Al-Ahram newspaper last week he hopes Egypt and Iran would restore normal ties.
Salehi described Egypt as a "cornerstone" of the region and a state that enjoys a distinctive status among Arab and Islamic countries. He voiced his optimism for the future of the Islamic World despite the recent developments and crises in the Middle East and North Africa.