Published January 13, 2015
Egypt's now-toppled Islamist president made a tactical blunder by not exerting stronger influence over the country's security and intelligence services after taking office last year, a prominent Iranian lawmaker said Thursday in comments that reflect Tehran's disappointment over the fall of Mohammed Morsi.
Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood-led government ended more than three decades of diplomatic estrangement with Iran that dated back to the 1979 Islamic Revolution when Egypt offered refuge to Iran's deposed shah. Ties further deteriorated after Egypt's landmark peace deal with Israel.
Alaeddin Boroujerdi, head of the Iranian parliament's Committee on National Security and Foreign Policy, said Morsi "mistakenly" failed to reshape Egypt's powerful military and other security agencies.
"The first mistake by the ... Brotherhood was that they thought they would be able to conclude the revolution only by toppling Hosni Mubarak," he said, adding that Morsi also failed to solve key economic problems in Egypt.
After Iran's Islamic Revolution, the new leadership formed military and security forces loyal to the clerics and others.
Morsi, however, had little opportunity to make inroads with Egypt's powerful armed forces and intelligence services, which had taken part in a crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood under Mubarak, who was brought down in 2011.
The military or police did not come to Morsi's aid during massive protests this week. The military pushed out Morsi on Wednesday, opening the way for an interim civilian government to run the country until new presidential elections are held. A date for that has yet to be given.
Boroujerdi described the events as a "coup" — echoing declarations by Morsi and his backers.
Earlier, state TV also called the anti-Morsi uprising a "coup." But, in a possible sign of trying to keep ties unraveling, the broadcasts included the swearing-in ceremony of the interim President Adly Mansour.
On Sunday, the first day of the protests in Egypt, the chairman of Iran's Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Hassan Firouzabadi, urged Egyptians to "stand by revolutionary and elected President Morsi."
In February, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's became the first Iranian president to visit Egypt in more than three decades. It followed an earlier groundbreaking visit by Morsi to Tehran, where disdain for Egypt was once so high that officials named a street after the ringleader of the assassination team that gunned down Egyptian President Anwar Sadat in 1981.
Despite the diplomatic outreach, there are still deep-seated tensions.
Some Sunni leaders in Egypt see Shiite Iran as a foe. Egypt also has sided with most other Arab states to support Syrian rebels seeking to overthrow the regime of Bashar Assad, who is Iran's chief ally in the region.