Spotlight on Iran

November 27, 2012 - Adar 9, 1391 Editor: Dr. Raz Zimmt
Iran still gives credit to Morsi: the Iranian media and the political crisis in Egypt

Iran still gives credit to Morsi: the Iranian media and the political crisis in Egypt

Iran still gives credit to Morsi: the Iranian media and the political crisis in Egypt

Iran still gives credit to Morsi: the Iranian media and the political crisis in Egypt


       Iran still gives credit to Morsi: the Iranian media and the political crisis in Egypt[1]

The political crisis in Egypt in the wake of President Morsi’s decision to assume sweeping powers is being widely covered by the Iranian media. The media outlets provide in-depth reports on the protests against Morsi and his government. More often than not, however, they tend to express support for the president of Egypt, show understanding for his decision, and portray it as a manifestation of his desire to complete the revolutionary move in his country.

The reactions in the Iranian media to the developments in Egypt show that Iran still has hopes for the new Egyptian regime to be willing to work for improving Iran-Egypt relations. However, the relatively extensive coverage of the political protest against Morsi, coupled with the admittedly reserved criticism he has come under from some media, also reflect Tehran’s disappointment with the policy pursued by the president of Egypt so far on the developments in Syria, the improvement of relations with Iran, and the continuation of his country’s ties with the United States and Israel. 

The political crisis in Egypt in the wake of President Morsi’s decision to assume sweeping powers is being widely covered by the Iranian media. The media outlets provide in-depth reports on the protests against Morsi and his government. More often than not, however, they tend to express support for the president of Egypt, show understanding for his decision, and portray it as a manifestation of his desire to complete the revolutionary move in his country.

An editorial published this week by the daily Khorasan defended the president’s decision to grant himself sweeping political powers. In the article, titled “Back to Tyranny or Saving the Revolution?”, the daily rejected the claims heard from Morsi’s opponents that his decision heralds a return to the time of tyranny. Unlike most social revolutions, the 2011 revolution in Egypt did not end with a total collapse of the political, juridical, military, and security apparatuses in the country, the article said. Only the leadership of the executive branch was replaced. There were no accompanying changes in the country’s other apparatuses, which still hold considerable power even after the parliament and presidential elections and seek to put impediments in the way of reforms. The armed forces continue threatening a military coup, and the security forces continue supervising the government’s activity.

Given this complex state of affairs, the Muslim Brotherhood government adopted a conservative policy and, at the same time, took measures for a gradual implementation of the reforms. It is in this context that Morsi’s recent decision has to be viewed. The decision comes at a time when he enjoys broad-based public support in and outside of Egypt thanks to his successful efforts to establish a ceasefire in Gaza and in light of the developments that have taken place in Egypt’s armed forces these past several months, which have substantially reduced the possibility of a military coup against his government.

According to Khorasan, Morsi’s decision to assume sweeping political powers is not a return to the Mubarak era—instead, it is intended to complete the process of the revolution. The president feels that, being the only person elected by the people after the Mubarak era, he has to reinforce his political status vis-à-vis the “establishment”, complete the reforms, and have a new constitution approved for revolutionary Egypt. Those political groups that oppose his government, including the left wing and the liberals, are trying to form a coalition with the remnants of the old regime to delay the approval of the new constitution, their motivation being their defeat in the presidential and parliament elections and the public support enjoyed by the Islamic groups. Morsi’s new government is characterized by its pragmatism, the newspaper concluded, and it remains to be seen what price Morsi and his advisors are willing to pay to implement the new reforms in Egypt (Khorasan, November 26).

The reformist daily Arman, too, expressed its support for Morsi’s decision, arguing that it is a necessity when considering the anti-revolutionary measures taken by the justice system in Egypt. Morsi took advantage of the Egyptian people’s broad-based opposition against the justice system to change it for the first time since the 2011 revolution. The daily referred to Morsi’s decision as the bravest move he has taken so far, arguing that, even though it is not supported by all the organizations in his country, it has to be accepted because he had no other choice (Arman, November 26).

The daily Kayhan also expressed its support for President Morsi, saying that his decision poses a threat to the West. The unity of Egypt’s Islamists and the powers President Morsi would like to assume are paving the way for the introduction of religious principles into the constitution, which is highly dangerous for the West, said an editorial published by the newspaper. The United States and the West have no problem with “secular Islam” as in the Turkish model or the kind of Islam espoused by the Syrian opposition; however, the path of the Islamists in Egypt is more like the Iranian model, which represents true Islam, than the model of Turkey or the Taliban. If Morsi can have a new constitution approved and establish a new political regime in the country, Egypt will undergo a process similar to that undergone by Iraq, which will make it possible for it to expel the occupiers from its territory. The cries of the United States and Saudi Arabia can’t eliminate this new regime, Kayhan concluded (November 27).

The daily Siyasat-e Rooz argued that Israel, Western countries, and Arab countries are involved in the political crisis in Egypt due to their concerns over the growing strength of Morsi’s political power base and the fact that they do not fully trust him. The “Zionists” wish to take advantage of the current conditions to conceal their defeat in the Gaza war, while the Arab countries want to divert public opinion from the way they oppress their own citizens, their silence during the war in Gaza, and their involvement—with the Zionists, Turkey, and Western countries—in the developments in Syria.

The daily warned about the political and economic consequences that will result if the crisis in Egypt continues—consequences that may divert the popular revolution from its path in such a way that will be exploited by the enemies of Egypt, particularly the Zionists and the United States. Siyasat-e Rooz called on the government of Egypt to engage in a national dialogue with the various political elements and reach an agreement with them that will bring back peace and quiet to the country (Siyasat-e Rooz, November 25).

The daily Jomhuri-ye Eslami, which in recent months has on several occasions criticized President Morsi’s conduct and his deviation from the revolutionary path, said that it is still too early to tell whether he is following in the footsteps of Hosni Mubarak, Egypt’s former president. An article titled “Pharaoh’s Early Return to Egypt?” said that it is difficult to know whether his decision to assume sweeping political powers has to do with the go-ahead he has been given by the United States in exchange for his help in resolving the crisis in Gaza.

The newspaper argued that the riots that broke out in the wake of his decision do not serve his own interests or those of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Egyptian revolution. It is too soon to tell, the article said, whether Morsi is following in the footsteps of Mubarak and turning into Egypt’s new pharaoh; however, it is necessary to wait and see whether he is true to his promise to protect the people’s revolution in his country. Even though some believe that nothing has changed in Egypt since the revolution, the fact that the Egyptian people are breaking their silence is a considerable development that can prevent the premature return of the pharaoh to Egypt, Jomhuri-ye Eslami concluded (November 25).

The conservative daily Javan also linked Morsi’s decision to the crisis in Gaza, arguing that the president of Egypt is using the political prestige he has gained in the wake of the crisis to promote his political status in Egypt. An editorial titled “Which Way is Mohamed Morsi Going?” said that the conflict in Gaza was a golden opportunity for the president of Egypt, who has become a major political player thanks to his efforts to broker a ceasefire.

The daily criticized—albeit in circumspect language—the president of Egypt, arguing that his decision to assume political powers reflects his over-confidence in his new political status. Morsi believed that he could use his achievements in the war to impose his will on the Egyptian institutions, particularly the justice system. He didn’t take into account that his decision would be opposed by those who had called for Mubarak’s fall. Morsi should know that he can’t take advantage of the Palestinian resistance to deal with the domestic problems in his country, particularly when considering the fact that he is facing not only the Supreme Military Council and the justice system but also those who made it possible for him to become president. His decision provides his critics with an opportunity to give him another reminder about the path of the resistance in Egypt (Javan, November 26).

The reactions in the Iranian media to the developments in Egypt show that Iran still hopes that Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood’s coming to power will eventually lead to an improvement in Iran-Egypt relations, which will serve the interests of the Islamic republic. However, the relatively extensive coverage of the political protest against Morsi, coupled with the admittedly reserved criticism he has come under from some media, also reflect Tehran’s disappointment with the policy pursued by the president of Egypt so far on the developments in Syria, the improvement of relations with Iran, and the continuation of his country’s ties with the United States and Israel.

[1] This publication is a new format that will be released instead of the weekly edition of Spotlight on Iran. From now on, the weekly edition will be replaced by regular reports on specific issues as well as research-oriented publications that will be released periodically.