Morsi's Iran Visit Declares A New Foreign Policy

Article Summary
In a 360-minute visit to Iran, Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi set out new elements of Egyptian foreign policy, including a forceful condemnation of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's "repressive regime," writes Khaled Abdel Hamid. 

Egypt’s President Mohammad Morsi has drawn the new features of the country’s foreign policy after the revolution, at the Summit of the Non-Aligned Movements held in Tehran on Thursday. Morsi attacked the Syrian regime and said that “it has lost its legitimacy.” He also called for reforming the international order and criticized the absence of a representation of Africa in the UN Security Council. During a six hour visit to Tehran, Morsi held bilateral talks with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in the first visit of an Egyptian president to Iran since relations between the two countries were cut in 1979.

Addressing leaders and representatives of 120 countries, Morsi delivered several political messages. He began by praying to Prophet Mohammad, his family and his companions, and praying to the Caliphs Abu Bakr, Omar, Uthman and Ali to indicate a rapprochement between Sunnis and Shiites.

In a message of reconciliation with the legacy of the July Revolution, which was marked by the enmity towards the Muslim Brotherhood — which Egypt’s president is a member of — Morsi praised late leader Gamal Abdel Nasser and his role in founding the non-aligned movement, adding that he [Nasser] was “expressing the people’s will to break free of foreign domination.”

The first civilian-elected president of Egypt said that the January 25 revolution represented the cornerstone of the Arab Spring and “successfully achieved its political objectives through the transfer of power to an elected civilian authority that reflected the will of the Egyptian people only.” Morsi pointed out that “Egypt is looking for a fair international order where developing countries can exit the circle of poverty, dependency and marginalization,” adding that “to continue the historical injustice towards Africa by excluding it from holding a permanent seat at the UN Security Council is no longer acceptable.”

Despite being in Iran, whose regime is the most prominent supporter of the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Morsi attacked the Syrian regime by describing it as “a repressive regime that has lost its legitimacy,” and said that supporting the revolution of the Syrian people against the regime is “a moral obligation and political necessity.” The Syrian delegation walked out of the session, protesting the speech of Morsi, who was accused by Syrian officials of “inciting bloodshed in Syria” and “interfering in Syria’s internal affairs.”

At the end of the session, during which Egypt handed the presidency of the Summit of the Non-Aligned Movements to Iran, Egyptian and Iranian presidents held unplanned bilateral talks, at the request of Ahmadinejad. In the 40-minute talks, bilateral relations between the two countries and the Syrian crisis were discussed.

A number of political forces welcomed Morsi’s speech, arguing that "it was balanced and sided with the Syrian people,” and hundreds of citizens received him at the Cairo airport, yesterday in the afternoon, chanting slogans like, “Morsi said it strong … We are with the Syrian revolution,” and “Raise your head up high … you are Egyptian.” Egypt’s president was keen to salute those who received him at the airport.

Found in: iran, egypt, syrian

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