Published — Friday 25 January 2013
Last update 25 January 2013 12:53 am
Saad Al-Katatni, a senior Muslim Brotherhood member and former Parliament Speaker, has denied a story recently reported by the Iranian network Press TV about him meeting with Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani in Sudan and said he had not traveled to Sudan in the first place.
Several Brotherhood members in Egypt also hurried to deny the story. This demonstrates the Egyptian government’s toward Iran’s fabrications, which were apparently meant to undermine Egyptian president Muhammad Mursi’s visit to Saudi Arabia to participate in the Arab economic summit.
There are several stories, all of which could in fact be fabricated, about meetings between Brotherhood members and Iranian officials. We all remember the false Mursi interview that was published in the Iranian official press. Yet what is really worth our attention here is the mysterious relationship between the Brotherhood and Iran; who is using who and why.
It is easy to deny a report or claim an interview or meeting was fabricated, but the official invitation extended by President Mursi to his Iranian counterpart Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is a true story. This means after all that both countries enjoy a close relationship, which reinforces the suspicion that the Muslim Brotherhood has strong ties with Iran, although the validity of this assumption remains to be seen.
Some Iranians want to see Mursi’s government besieged on the Arab level so that Egypt becomes Iran’s closest ally as an alternative to Bashar Assad’s collapsing regime. Meanwhile, some Brotherhood members in Egypt want to blackmail and frighten Arab countries, especially in the Gulf region, to get their political, partisan, and financial support. The second camp was represented by some Brotherhood writers who called for getting closer to Iran under the pretext that Gulf countries do not support the Brotherhood’s rule.
Qatar, which is on good terms with Iran, is the only exception. This camp most likely does not distinguish between media absurdity and the state’s political strategy.
It will not be easy for Mursi’s government or any other Egyptian government to forge an alliance with Iran unless this government decides to drag Egypt into a series of domestic problems. Egypt gets one third of its remittances from the Gulf and not from Iran and its international value is derived from its positive role in the region and not the other way round. It seems unlikely that the Muslim Brotherhood would choose to risk the interests of their people in return for changing the political map. If this happens, it will be a totally different story.
Whether Iranians are trying to undermine Mursi’s relationship with Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Gulf region or the Muslim Brotherhood is using Iran to get closer to the Gulf, there are certain grounds that are quite clear on both sides and that are not to be evaluated through press reports, but rather through the actions of the new Egyptian regime. This would be demonstrated in the Egyptian government’s relationship with senior officials in Iran and the nature of the deals they strike together as well as any interventions or conspiracies on the part of the Brotherhood in the Gulf countries.
The most serious obstacle that would hamper the relationship between Mursi’s government, the Gulf and Iran is the game of duality in which the statements and actions of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt are said not to represent Mursi and his government. This would be hard to believe because after all this is a Brotherhood government, and even if negative statements are sometimes issued they are attributed to other names.