Morsi's Just Not that into Iran

(Foreign Policy) Geneive Abdo and Reza H. Akbari - Egyptian President Morsi's performance at the Non-Aligned Movement summit in Tehran disappointed his Iranian hosts. Ever since Morsi announced he would make the trip to Tehran, Iran's propaganda machine had been working overtime. Iranian state media has gone out of its way to exaggerate the importance of Morsi's trip by publishing frequent updates during his brief visit. For the past week, the Iranian media has published statements, declarations, and interviews all making the same point: Morsi's trip declares Iran the winner in the war against the West. Morsi's decision to take the opportunity offered by Iran to embrace the Syrian uprising against Assad put the Iranian regime in something of a bind. Morsi refused even to say clearly if relations with Iran will be upgraded. Despite their optimistic rhetoric, Iranian officials realize now that they are likely to gain far less than they had hoped from the Arab uprisings. Furthermore, the cost of restoring ties with Iran for Egypt would be great. Not only would this alienate the U.S. and Israel, but also relations with Gulf states, particularly Saudi Arabia, would be severely damaged. Morsi clearly understands the importance of maintaining good ties in the Gulf - aid is at stake. His first diplomatic mission after he became president was to Saudi Arabia to replenish Egypt's diminishing currency reserves. Tehran's desperation for a relationship with a disinterested Egypt speaks volumes about its declining place in the hearts of the Arab world. Geneive Abdo is director of the Iran program at the Middle East Institute where Reza H. Akbari is a research associate.

2012-08-31 00:00:00

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