Morsi Pledges to Uphold
Treaties, Ally With Iran
New president of Egypt says Egyptian-Iranian
alliance will create 'balance of pressure'
Newly elected president of Egypt Muhammad Morsi sent two very different messages to the world on Sunday night, pledging to uphold Egypt's various diplomatic commitments while also inviting an alliance with Iran.
In his televised election-night speech, Morsi tried to sound a moderate note "calling for internal unity and saying he carries 'a message of peace' to the world."
Shortly before, however, Morsi spoke to the Iranian media and expressed his desire to renew ties with the Islamic republic, saying "This will create a balance of pressure in the region, and this is part of my program."
There should be little doubt as to who the pressure will be on. Morsi was undoubtedly making a reference to Israel. He plans, apparently, to leverage Egypt's power in order to counter the mounting pressure on Iran from Israel and other nations who wish to stop Iran's development of nuclear weapons.
It may also hint at a secondary and perhaps darker purpose. Egypt has long held out the possibility that it would also acquire nuclear weapons at some point in the future. Should Iran do so, the taboo on introducing nukes into the Muslim Middle East would be broken, and the various diplomatic and psychological barriers to an Egyptian bomb would be erased.
The question is, which Morsi should one believe, the conciliator or the Islamic radical? The answer is not completely clear-cut, but with the Egyptian military having already made it clear that it is prepared to step in and usurp the powers of the civilian government should it prove necessary, it seems unlikely that Morsi would have a choice about endorsing Egypt's previous agreements, including with Israel.
As a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, however, Morsi is ideologically dedicated to the rejection of Israel's existence and the promotion of political Islam in the Middle East. It is almost impossible to imagine that, having reached the pinnacle of power in Egypt, he would be anything but absolutely sincere in pursuing that goal.
What the consequences of that would be are not pleasant to contemplate, but there is already some indication of the possible Israeli reaction: The far-Right is already beginning to talk about retaking the Sinai. There is no doubt that should Egypt attack Israel, that would be the IDF's first priority.
In short, what is at stake is not simply Egypt's future, but the future - or lack of one - of over forty years of the peace process. When Morsi is done, the Middle East may find itself back where it began in 1967.
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