Iran’s Hope for an ‘Islamic Awakening’ in Egypt

640x392_31494_145906One of the most detrimental consequences of the Obama administration’s avoidance of taking a robust and assertive foreign policy leadership role is that it has directly contributed to emboldening the hegemonic, ideological, and geopolitical ambitions of the Islamic Republic of Iran – not only across the region, but also in the international arena. Because the Obama administration has been hesitant to take decisive action towards the heightening political leverage and influence of the Islamists and Salafists in Egypt, Iran has been able to pursue actions that further preserve its geopolitical, national, geostrategic and ideological privileges across the region.

After the recent overthrow of the Islamist and authoritative leader, Mohammad Morsi from the Muslim Brotherhood party, the Islamic Republic of Iran under the leadership of the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has been publicly calling for the Islamists, fundamentalists, Salafists, and advocates of radical Sharia law to mobilize on the streets and to protest Israel and the United States until Mohammad Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood are reinstated to power. Due to the political vacuum in Egypt and due to the absence of U.S. leadership, Iranian leaders are eagerly intervening in Egypt’s political affairs in order to shift the current political developments to their favor.

This week, the Supreme Leader and his loyal followers – in a manner that appears to be following the footsteps of Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution – are publicly encouraging another uprising in Egypt, referring to it as an “Islamic Awakening.” Intriguingly enough, the Iranian leaders used a description other than an “Islamic Awakening” when describing the nation-wide protests in Syria. Instead, Iranian officials hypocritically labeled Syria’s uprisings as a struggle between Assad’s legitimate Alawite-based government on one hand and Israeli-and-U.S.-backed conspirators, traitors and “terrorists” on the other.

After former Egyptian president Morsi was removed from power by the high generals of the Egyptian Army, as well as through the efforts of millions of protesters, Iran’s Foreign Ministry harshly criticized the Egyptian military, U.S. and Israel for toppling the nation’s Islamist president. In an official interview, the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Foreign Ministry called the move to remove ex-president Morsi as extremely improper. According to the official Iranian news agency IRNA, the ministry spokesman Abbas Araghchi stated, “We do not consider proper the intervention by military forces in politics to replace a democratically elected administration.” In addition, Mansour Haqiqatpour, a member of the Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, said on Tuesday that “Militarism does not favor democracy…. The Army must defend the great Egyptian people against foreign threats.”

First of all, it is fairly ironic that the leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran are lecturing the Egyptian people about democracy and legitimate elections. The Islamic Republic of Iran – a country in which the gilded circle of the Supreme Leader and his loyal members of the Guardian Council hold the power to veto any politically-undesirable candidate from running for presidency – is instructing the Egyptian people and military on the meaning of democracy. Iran, which is encouraging Morsi’s supporters to mobilize on the streets, is the same country that became notorious for its repeated and oppressive crack downs on leaders and participants of the Iranian Green Movement ever since its formation after the highly-contested 2009 presidential election. Many of the oppositional political figures, including Mir Hussein Mosavi and Mehdi Karoubi, are to this day still under house arrest. In addition, the Islamic Republic of Iran ranks among the lowest in freedom of speech, press, assembly, rule of law, and social justice. Iran is also ranked among the top five countries in human rights abuses, media censorship, oppression of political parties, and discrimination against minorities, including the Sunnis, Christian and Bahaeis.

The fact is that Iran gained tremendous geostrategic, geopolitical and political leverage after Mohammad Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood came to power. The Iranian leaders exploited the increasingly shrinking leadership of the Obama administration, which allowed them to shift the regional balance of power to their favor. For instance, after more than thirty years of denied access, Iran is now able to use the Suez Canal. Although Egypt is one of the largest recipients of donations from the United States (receiving almost over 1.5 billion dollars a year), it was Morsi’s government which submitted to Iran’s assertive demands and signed a contract to grant permission to Tehran to use the Canal. Moreover, Iran had long been in a complete political and diplomatic stalemate with the deposed government of Hosni Mubarak, who gave asylum to the U.S.-backed Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, and who had been in tension with Shiite Iran ever since the 1979 Iranian revolution. For decades, Tehran was denied any kind of strategic access by Mubarak, who also had the military’s backing for over thirty years. In addition, the Islamic Republic of Iran was capable of reopening its embassy in Egypt under Morsi’s rule, which helped restart Iran-Egypt diplomatic, political, and economic ties.

More fundamentally, Obama’s lack of leadership has helped Iranian leaders gain not only a strategic naval access to the Mediterranean Sea, but also the capability to project their naval power into the Atlantic Ocean. The increasing access to the Mediterranean Sea assisted Iran’s navy and Revolutionary Guard Corps to more directly provide militarily and advisory assistance to its closest Arab ally: Syria. In addition, after gaining access to the Atlantic Ocean, the country’s next plan according to the Supreme Leader is to situate its warships near the coasts of the United States.

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  • EarlyBird

    The last time the US took “robust and assertive foreign policy leadership” in the Middle East we knocked off Sunni-led Saddam, Iran’s greatest nemesis, and replaced Iraq’s leadership with an Iran-friendly Shia basketcase government and is swarmed by Al Queda and other Islamist terror groups. Not a peep about this in this article.
    And it’s absolute nonsense that there is an Iran-MB axis in Egypt. Never was and never will be. The military has always run the show, even under Mubarak, and Morsi couldn’t contain his own cabinet, let alone consolidate Islamist popularity with the Egyptian people. Did this guy get the news?: Morsi is out.
    What this guy doesn’t get is that it is a history of “robust and assertive foreign policy leaderhip” in the Middle East, by which he means constantly meddling, control and manipulation of governments, economies and societies, that the US is so hated.
    Let’s stay the f*** out of that hornets’ nest to the greatest degree possible. Let’s stop funding Egypt and Israel. The former doesn’t deserve it, the latter no longer needs it.

    • Kimberly

      What about Mujahedin, where we, particularly the democrat administration, left them and did not take robust position and then we had 9/11 and Alqaeda. What about Iran 1979 when Carter did not take strong leadership and then we had the Ayatollah? This world is about leadership and geopolitics

      • EarlyBird

        There is no operational link between Iran and Al Queda.
        You should be asking the question, “What about the robust and assertive foreign policy leadership we took against the USSR in Afghanistan, by arming the Taliban and Osama bin Laden, which ended with 9/11?” [Please note: I am not criticizing the US for injuring the USSR by using the mujahedeen as a proxy. I just want to establish that every action has a reaction and we have to think far ahead of just today's step.]
        You are using “strong leadership” in ’79 as a eupehmism for war against Iran. You tell me why all the generals under Carter, Reagan, Bush I, Clinton, Bush II and Obama have said that waging a war against Iran is not a good move, even given the threat it poses.
        I expect that there is a cost-benefit-risk assessment doesn’t come to “war.” Perhaps a rotten but predictable Iran is better than the possibly even more rotten and fully unpredictable Iran which could come out of a warred-upon Iran?
        Leadership doesn’t always mean swaggering and warring all over the planet, Kimberly, some times it means restraint. Americans used to know that.

    • Greg

      Eralybird, are you suggesting there is no connection between Iran and Muslim Brotherhood? Are you living in a hallucinatory planet? You think Iran does not have links to Islamist groups? In your other comment, you also suggested that the jury was wrong and Zimmerman should be punished. First, It is inappropriate to attack the jury, second this is the land of law.. if you dont like the verdict… just live in other land. It seems you are one of those angry Muslims who is labeled himself as earlybird…

      • EarlyBird

        “Eralybird, are you suggesting there is no connection between Iran and Muslim Brotherhood?”

        Absolutely not. In fact, Iran and the MB are kindred spirits. I stated there was not some “axis” between the former MB-run Egyptian government and Iran, as the author implies or openly states, and that there will not be one, as long as the military continues to run the show in Egypt.

        “You think Iran does not have links to Islamist groups?”

        What ever gave you that idea? Not only do they have “links” to Islamist groups, Iran is the Mother of All Islamist Terror Groups.

        “In your other comment, you also suggested that the jury was wrong and Zimmerman should be punished…”

        Completely wrong again. In fact, I have repeatedly stated that the Zimmerman verdict was correct under the law, though I believe Zimmerman bears some moral culpability for the entire tragedy.

        Greg, are you just disagreeing with someone for the purpose of disagreeing?

    • Greg

      The author brings intriguing points if you read the details rather than just ….

  • Kimberly

    What about Mujahedin, where we, particularly the democrat administration, left them and did not take robust position and then we had 9/11 and Alqaeda. What about Iran 1979 when Carter did not take strong leadership and then we had the Ayatollah? This world is about leadership and geopolitics.

    • EarlyBird

      Actually, Carter started “Operation Cyclone” in late ’78, after the Afghan commie party, puppets of the USSR, took over Afghanistan. The operation was meant to force the Soviets to pour resources into defending their puppet government. They ultimately invaded. By the time that happened Carter only had a few months left as president, but he’d already been funneling arms and training via the CIA to the mujahedeen.