Saturday, July 21, 2012

"Why is Tehran angry with Mursi?" (Amir Taheri)

I have been saying that Egypt is on the way to a Sunni version of Khomeinism. As this fascinating article by Amir Taheri suggests, that may not mean an alliance with actual Khomeinism--it could mean a fairly tense rivalry with it:
[...] When Mursi declined to receive the Khomeinist emissary, Tehran fabricated an interview in which Mursi showered praise on Khamenei and promised to restore ties with the Islamic Republic.

Mursi denied giving the interview, and the Tehran media shifted attention to another topic. This time Tehran wanted Mursi not to devote his first foreign visit to Saudi Arabia.

When Mursi did visit Saudi Arabia, Tehran tried to play down the event. [...]

Using the summit of non-aligned nations that is scheduled to take place in Tehran as a pretext, Ahmadinejad dispatched his Special Advisor to present an invitation to Mursi.

The subtext was that diplomatic ties, severed in 1979, would be restored before Mursi visits Tehran in September.

However, that move is not in Mursi’s gift. It was Tehran that severed ties with Cairo, and the initiative for resuming relations should also come from the Iranian side.

That is not as a simple as it sounds. Relations with Egypt were severed on the orders of Ruhollah Khomeini, the mullah who created the regime in Tehran. Khomeini issued a fatwa decreeing that ties not be restored unless Egypt renounces the Camp David accords.

In other words, the Islamic Republic demands control over a major aspect of Egyptian foreign policy. Obviously, Mursi, or any other Egyptian leader, cannot concede such control. The only way out of the impasse is for Tehran to cancel Khomeini’s fatwa.

Such a move, however, would open an even bigger can of worms. As an ideology, Khomeinism is based on the myth of the late ayatollah’s infallibility. To admit that Khomeini might have made a mistake, and that his fatwas could be overruled, would deal a major blow to the structure of Tehran’s official ideology. [...]
Taheri, who sees such matters as sharply contrasting with Egypt, might be over-prone to make Egypt's present course sound democratic, but I think he is on target, as usual, about Tehran's current dilemmas. (Some worthwhile parts of the article are not included in my excerpts.)

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