Tehran treads carefully after Mursi’s ouster

Camelia Entekhabi-Fard
Camelia Entekhabi-Fard
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Iran has considered uprisings in Arab countries as an "Islamic awakening," repeating its own 1979 Islamic revolution that ousted the monarch Mohammad Reza Pahlavi the Shah and brought Islamists to power.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei the supreme leader of Iran and his fellow supporters couldn’t hide their excitement when Mubarak was ousted and Mursi, a member of Muslim Brotherhood, became president.

Iran had a feeling that with the victory of the Brotherhood in Egypt, a new era between the two nations would begin. An era which makes Iran and Egypt good friends and they would create a union against the U.S. and Israel. Mursi disappointed them.

With all support Iran granted to Mursi, what they gained was a cold harsh gesture by him. Mursi’s cold attitude towards Tehran and his rejection to normalize relations with Iran was so disappointing.

During Mursi’s short few-hour visit in Tehran last February to attend the OIC summit opening he refused to meet Ayatollah Khamenei the supreme leader. Arrogant Mursi quickly disappointed Iranians as well as his own people in Egypt.

I remember the time when conservative newspapers in Iran attacked Egyptian opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei and called him a western puppet when they learned he might want to run in the election back in 2012. Conservatives in Iran were thinking the Muslim Brotherhood would have more in common with them than the secular ElBaradie.

Arrogant Mursi quickly disappointed Iranians as well as his own people in Egypt.

Camelia Entekhabi-Fard

ElBaradei, who has visited Iran a few times when he was the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, is a very well-known and respected figure in Iran. He tried so hard to solve Iran’s nuclear file to prevent a confrontation between Iran and West over the nuclear program. He did his best and his efforts were well recognized by Nobel Peace Committee in 2005 by giving him a Nobel Prize.

Does Egypt need ElBaradei?

A sharp, smart and hardcore diplomat, ElBaradei pulled out from the presidential race and didn’t run in the 2012 election. Perhaps he knew that even if the Muslim Brotherhood won (and it was likely), they wouldn’t last long.

Iran’s former ambassador in Lebanon, Mohammad Irani told Etemad newspaper on July 7 that Iran fully welcomed and supported to Mursi, but the Muslim Brotherhood’s behaviour was totally different than what was expected and actually even was harsh towards Iran.

“We have to take lesson from our approaches to Mursi and now should be careful and patient about this recent activity,” Irani said. He also indicated that Iran should only observe the events in Egypt and won’t rush to support any sides. “Developments in Egypt have an influence in whole region and we shouldn’t adopt a stance that wouldn’t be reversible,” Irani said.

This was one of the first reactions expressed by an Iranian official about the recent developments in Egypt. Even in Iran, the first official reaction to the toppling of Egypt's democratically elected president by the military was very careful. A Sunday report by the official IRNA news agency quotes foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Araghchi saying that Iran is observing the events in Egypt carefully and closely, and worrying about the clashes between the Egyptians which may undermine national unity and internal consistency. Araghchi did not call the move a "coup." It seems like Iranian rulers deep inside are happy with Mursi’s ouster but extremely cautious about their expression of it.

Now with the card turned in favor of ElBaradei and with this new wave most media in Iran even the conservatives are praising Mohammad ElBaradei. ElBaradei like Rowhani the new elected president is moderate and skilled with a great international reputation. Can it be possible that ElBaradei will soon run in the next presidential election?

The world is watching Egypt nervously to see if this nation can pass through this very difficult time and make it towards democracy. Egypt’s success at this very critical and historical time can be an example for all “awakening” nations, even for Iran.


Camelia Entekhabi-Fard is a journalist, news commentator and writer who grew up during the Iranian Revolution and wrote for leading reformist newspapers. She is also the author of Camelia: Save Yourself by Telling the Truth - A Memoir of Iran. She lives in New York City and Dubai. She can be found on Twitter: @CameliaFard

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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