Followings are excerpts from an interview with Hojatoleslam Dr. Mohammad Masjed Jamei who holds a PhD degree in geopolitics from the University of Pisa, Italy; conducted by Mohammad Reza Noroozpour, world editor of khabaronline.
Masjed Jamei: “I believe the collapse of Mubarak’s regime is more significant than the empowerment of Islamists in Egypt, because during the last two decades that regime had formed a powerful, complicated political, international, regional security network which aimed to promote right-wing Arabian view and protect Israel and its interests.
The above mentioned network caused numerous problems and led to several results which neither were simply political, nor remained limited to the Middle East region. As a matter of fact, the growth of extremely radical and dangerous ideas among the Islamists was a result of the network established by Mubarak’s regime which had a stranglehold on Egypt and the region in terms of foreign and domestic policy.”
“The people who gathered in Tahrir Square and protested against the stranglehold and despotism of Mubarak's regime were not simply Islamists forces or even the Muslim Brotherhood forces. They were young Egyptians who according to their remarks toppled that regime under the influence of Belgrade’s young protesters who tumbled down the regime of Slobodan Milosevic. Later the members of the Muslim Brotherhood and other religious groups joined them.
In political and ideological terms, the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt’s ideas are close to those of the rich Arabian countries of the Persian Gulf region above them the Saudi Arabia. When the relation of the second Egyptian President, Gamal Abdel Nasser with the Muslim Brotherhood party deteriorated, many elite figures of the party escaped or immigrated to those Arabian countries.
Their immigration was absolutely beneficial for those countries since the Muslim Brotherhood members turned to the elements of modernization there. Indeed the majority of religious or even nonreligious universities and institutes, cultural institutions as well as those involved in development projects and business were founded by the Brotherhood’s prominent figures in the Arabian countries of the Persian Gulf region.
At the moment, as the network of Mubarak’s regime has been collapsed, the Saudi Arabian officials will do their best to play a more active role on the scene of the Arabian and regional policies. Now, while the significance of Egypt as the traditional center and protector of Arabian world and its interests has downgraded, the Saudi Arabia is making efforts to improve its status in the region.
Before discussing on the future of relation between the Islamic Republic of Iran and Egypt, let's refer to this relation in the previous Egyptian regime. The policy of Mubarak's regime toward Iran was based on taking the best advantage of the bitter relation between the Islamic Republic and the West. When Egypt-Western countries ties became strained, Mubarak’s government tried to renew its relation with Iran which was a cause of fear in the West’s camp because Egypt had pretended that was the guardian of security and stability in the region.
On the other hand, at that time the Egyptian officials were attempting to blacken the name of Iran and sever their diplomatic relations with Iran. All these plots meant to get ransom from the West as they were playing with the card, the Islamic Republic of Iran.
But the situation of the new Egypt is different. Unlike Mubarak’s regime, the new Egyptian government does not regard itself as the guardian of the West’s best interests in the region; however I think other problems will appear on the way of Iran-Egypt relation.
In a country with profound religious beliefs like Egypt, close ties with Iran can be a potential danger for the government of that country because they cannot accept and tolerate those with Shiite tendency in their society. Although in the course of history, Egyptian people have been interested to Shiite wisdom, this tendency for the new Egypt’s government is regarded unsafe, as a threat to their domestic security.
Even if one rules out such a pessimistic idea, one cannot deny that the new Egypt led by the Muslim Brotherhood is extremely afraid of Shiite Iranian influence in that country which is a natural phenomenon.
The issue at stake is the recent developments in Egypt which some of them are in our benefit but some others would be in our benefit if only we act sensibly.
As I told before, the collapse of Mubarak's regime has provided a unique opportunity for us. Nevertheless relation with the new Egypt will be essentially more challenging and demands a delicate and prudent approach to the issue. As a matter of fact having a peaceful limited diplomatic relation will be much better than having a full but tense relation with Egypt and we should avoid making emotional and hasty judgments and statements.
In the Iranian contemporary history, many of our Islamist political figures were influenced by and infatuated with Egypt, unlike those who had not Islamic tendencies and mostly became westernized. But those Islamist Iranians who had progressive ideas in their mind became “Egiptized” and this trend is still underway.
On the other hand, let's take a brief look at the history of relations between the two countries, for example in 1952 when the Iranian Prime Minister of time, Mr. Mohammad Mossadeq was coming back from the United Nations assembly and Midway paid a visit to Egypt where the people welcomed him warmly and amazingly. Even it’s being said that the nationalization of Suez Canal Company was inspired by the nationalization of the Iranian oil industry worked out by Mr. Mossadeq. Wt shows that Egyptians have generally had a positive view about Iran.
After the Islamic revolution, tendency to boost diplomatic relations with Egypt increased among some Iranian political figures and reached to its height in 1990s. The proponents of both the Muslim Brotherhood and Gamal Abdel Nasser which were and are against each other have their own advocates in Iran. This situation reveals the level of interest to Egypt among the Iranian politicians.
The enmity between the proponents of the Muslim Brotherhood and Nasserism is still going on in Egypt. However the significant issue in our foreign policy is to avoid preconceptions and mostly baseless emotions. Moreover we should arrange our relation with Egypt based on realism and giving priority to our best interests in short and long terms.