27 June 2012, 18:35

Will Egypt's new government enhance ties with Iran?

Will Egypt's new government enhance ties with Iran?
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The point is that Egypt is more or less culturally and politically influential country in the Arab world and so it kind of leads this world in how development can go on and how steps into something like democracy can go further.

Interview with Christian Wolff – expert in Egypt at the University of Nurnberg, Germany.

Well, the point is that the new Egypt is not that new, it is a mixture between the former Egypt and the authoritarian regime, and nowadays we have the authoritarian regime in Egypt too, that is the military council which is governing, but we have this democratic element with this new elected President Mohammed Morsi and so Egypt is in a development process, and thereby maybe some kind of an example for other countries in the region. The point is that Egypt is more or less culturally and politically influential country in the Arab world and so it kind of leads this world in how development can go on and how steps into something like democracy can go further.

So, if we will get a little bit more specific, Mr. Morsi seems to have made a statement in his comments to Farsi – Iranian nongovernmental agency. And today his press secretary has been saying that he has been not making those comments. But if we just focus on the pure information, do you think that the new Government would really try to expand its ties with Iran?

Yes, not in the harsh ways we heard in the interviews but they will try to expand the connections with Iran because the Muslim Brotherhood and that’s where Mohammed Morsi is from has this agenda of establishing well founded ties with the Islamic world and Iran is the Islamic state in the Arab world and is the kind of forerunner in confronting the US and the West. And thereby Iran can be something like important for the Muslim Brotherhood and even for Mohammed Morsi. But the point is that the Muslim Brothers really know that in Iran there is a suppression of the opposition and this is something they do not want. So, it is kind of a two folded game they play with Iran. On the one hand strengthening the ties with Iran and on the other hand criticizing what is not democratic in Iran.

But then does that imply that the Egyptian relations with Israel would be more complicated than they used to be?

They will be more complicated but the point is also that the new elected President will not have those powers in foreign relations as for example Mubarak had before because the foreign relations are made of foreign policies made by the military council. So, this new elected President just has just some representative function.

But what does the Muslim Brotherhood agenda demands? What his allies expect of him?

They expect him to focus on internal issues in Egypt. For example to abolish this unsocial system of economics in Egypt, to establish the ways of aid and all these things. All these things he said regarding the foreign policy are something like, not propaganda, but it sounds good for some Egyptians and for some religious people, but it is nothing he can really convert into real politics because the real politics in foreign relations are made by the military council. So, Israel will always refer to the military council.

Does that mean that perhaps there is a potential of a standoff between his Government and the military council?

No, I don’t think so, because I think that the predicaments of the presidency of Mohammed Morsi were kind of negotiated between the military council and Mohammed Morsi. And so they kind of agreed on that Mohammed Morsi can do the internal things and the military council can do the external things, even though the point is that the military has overwhelming rights to kind of interfere in internal politics too. So, Mohammed Morsi is not the President with real political powers as a president would want to have.

Not exactly Hosni Mubarak, isn’t he?

He is definitely not Hosni Mubarak.

But then to tackle the internal agenda, it is obvious that the country needs to be more stable than it is now. So, how good are the chances that the Government would succeed in that?

I think that this is only possible when all the political groups in Egypt work together. This includes the military as well as the Muslim Brotherhood, the secular opposition, the vested opposition and all those people on the Tahrir Square. The point is that you have to regain trust in the Government, you have to regain trust in the governmental institutions and this will only work if all these groups work together, not if they kind of attack each other with political demands and all this. They kind of have to negotiate now and have to make something like a consensual Government.

Keeping in mind that the Muslim Brotherhood is not the same as the Salafi, so be careful with the meaning of Islamists because the Muslim Brotherhood is something we call as something more or less like the political Islam, and this Salafis are something more like the Islamists. And you know that this word – Islamist – sometimes wakes some kind of stereotypes.

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