TEHRAN, June 25, 2012 (AFP)
TEHRAN, June 25, 2012 (AFP)
Egypt’s Islamist president-elect, Mohamed Morsi, wants to “reconsider” the peace deal with Israel and build ties with Iran to “create a strategic balance” in the Middle East, according to an interview published by Iran’s Fars news agency on Monday.
But an Egyptian presidential spokesman quashed the Fars report saying that Morsi never spoke to the Iranian news agency. “Mr Morsi did not give any interview to Fars and everything that this agency has published is without foundation,” a spokesman for the Egyptian presidency told the official news agency MENA.
Fars had said that Morsi spoke to one of its reporters in Cairo on Sunday just before his election triumph was announced. “We will reconsider the Camp David Accord” that, in 1979, forged a peace between Egypt and Israel that has held for more than three decades, Fars quoted Morsi as saying.
But in a speech to the Egyptian nation after his victory was confirmed, Morsi pledged to respect international treaties signed by Cairo. According to Fars, Morsi also said the issue of Palestinian refugees returning to homes their families abandoned in the 1948 Arab-Israeli war and the 1967 Six-Day War “is very important”.
Morsi added though that “all these issues will be carried out through cabinet and governmental bodies because I will not take any decision on my own.” Morsi also reportedly said he was ready to improve ties with Iran. The Islamic republic broke off diplomatic relations with Egypt in 1980, a year after Cairo signed the peace deal with the Jewish state. “Part of my agenda is the development of ties between Iran and Egypt that will create a strategic balance in the region,” Morsi was quoted as saying.
Later the official Iranian news agency IRNA quoted President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as saying he hoped Morsi’s election would help bolster ties between the Shiite Islamic republic and majority Sunni Muslim Egypt.
“I congratulate you for your victory as head of Egypt, a friendly and brotherly country,” Ahmadinejad said in a statement addressed to Morsi, and “insisted on the reinforcement of ties between the two countries,” IRNA reported.
Morsi’s remarks, as reported by Fars, are certain to alarm Israel and its ally the United States as they adapt to the new direction Egypt will chart with Morsi at the helm.
They could also boost Iran’s influence in the Middle East at a time of heightened tensions between Tehran and the West. Although Morsi resigned from Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood to take the top job, Israel is wary of his election, fearing his Islamist record could jeopardize the chilly peace it has long enjoyed with its huge neighbor.
Iran’s clerical leadership contends that the Arab Spring that toppled veteran Egyptian strongman Hosni Mubarak and other longtime US allies in the Arab world last year was inspired by its own 1979 Islamic revolution.
Although Iran’s predominant faith is Shiite Islam and the Muslim Brotherhood adheres to the Sunni branch of Islam, Tehran has been reaching out to the organization in Egypt in recent months.
Iran’s armed forces chief of staff, General Hassan Firouzabadi, on Monday was quoted by IRNA as echoing the Muslim Brotherhood’s rejection of moves by Egypt’s military to dissolve the Islamist-led parliament and give itself a greater say over government policy and the constitution.
“The actions of the military council in Egypt, which considers itself to be selected by Mubarak, lack legal validity and political legitimacy,” Firouzabadi said.