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Opinion: Tehran is playing a double game - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English
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Opinion: Tehran is playing a double game

Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi (R) meets with Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi (L) at the presidential palace, in Cairo, Egypt, 10 January 2013. Salehi arrived in Egypt for talks with Egyptian and Arab officials on bilateral relations and the Syrian crisis.  EPA/KHALED ELFIQI

The Iranians hastened to sacrifice the Muslim Brotherhood, not out of love for the Egyptians but out of hatred of the Turks, aiming to isolate Turkey in view of Erdogan’s recklessness toward Egypt. Iran’s attitude is also aimed at furthering détente with the new Egyptian regime. After a year backing Mursi, the Iranians have now sold out and sacrificed the Muslim Brotherhood and are singing the praise of the “Tamarod” (Rebellion) movement.

Overnight, the Iranians now demand respect for the Egyptian people’s desires, and advise Turks not to side with Mursi or the Brotherhood. According to the Turkish Zaman newspaper, Hussein Nakawi, spokesman of the Iranian Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Politics Subcommittee, said more Turkish support to Morsi could be harmful to Turkish interests. He added that the Iranian Foreign Minister has recently advised the Turks to “take into consideration the Egyptian people’s demands from Mursi’s opposition,” yet Ankara seems to be deaf.

The Iranian criticism of the Brotherhood did not stop here, as one of Tehran’s Friday clerics, Ahmed Janati, during his most recent sermon last Friday, accused the Muslim Brotherhood of offering aid to Israel, and highly praised the Tamarod movement. Maher News Agency cited Janati as saying: “The situation in Egypt is bad. We were hopeful that this revolution would be fruitful, as we had pinned great hope on it. Yet, they [The Muslim Brotherhood] provided assistance to Israel by shutting Gaza’s tunnels, championing the Camp David Peace Treaty and continuing to provide Israel with gas. This all continued to happen until the Tamarod movement emerged.”

Janati praised the movement by saying that “60 percent of the Egyptian people are members of Tamarod, and they are emphasizing that they are Muslims and are against the US and Israel, and want to remain independent. Yet, some are standing against them on the other side.”

Well, what does this all mean? This simply means that Iran is now is abandoning the Brotherhood and are exploiting the Turkish recklessness towards Egypt. Furthermore, Iran also aims to achieve political penetration, something it failed to accomplish throughout a full year of the Brotherhood’s rule, despite Ahmadinejad’s visit to Cairo, and despite all the Egyptian delegations which the Brotherhood sent to Iran, and despite the Iranian-Brotherhood statements about identical viewpoints towards Syria as well as other issues, and despite all the promises of transporting Iranian expertise to aid Mursi and the Brotherhood. Today, Tehran is trying to kills two birds with one stone. Tehran, by displaying courtship to the new Egyptian regime, is hopeful that it will open political channels with Egypt and isolate Turkey in the region.

Of course, Tehran will return to the Brotherhood either after they have rearranged their cards, or in case a détente is achieved in Egypt. Iran’s policy in the region relies on the principle of “divide and rule” as well as on exploiting crises and divisions. This is what Iran will also do to its Shi’ite adherents in the region and even to Al-Assad in a certain point. Iran’s allies in our region are mere tools which it uses for some time and then throws them away. This is how Iran is playing, but who will learn the lesson?

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Mr. Alhomyed has been a guest analyst and commentator on numerous news and current affair programs, and during his distinguished career has held numerous positions at Asharq Al-Awsat, amongst other newspapers. Notably, he was the first journalist to interview Osama Bin Ladin's mother. Mr. Alhomayed holds a bachelor's degree in media studies from King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah. He is based in London.

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