Egyptian president to visit Iran, a first in decades

Click photo to download. Caption: Mohammed Morsi. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.( Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood President Mohammed Morsi will visit Tehran to attend a summit later this month, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The announcement comes after Morsi and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad met recently at a summit in Mecca. The visit to Tehran will be the first in decades since relations soured following the 1979 Iranian Revolution.

While it is still too early to assess the implications, analysts suspect that Morsi’s visit is part of an effort to align foreign policy with popular sentiment in Egypt and to be independent of the West and Gulf States.

“This really signals the first response to a popular demand and a way to increase the margin of maneuver for Egyptian foreign policy in the region,” said political scientist Mustafa Kamel el-Sayyed.

However, any normalization of relations between the countries will have to involve careful steps, according to the Journal. Serious religious tensions exist between Sunni Muslim Egypt and Shi’a Muslim Iran. Egyptian Sunni clerics consider Shi’a to be heretics. Additionally, the Gulf States fear Iran’s regional ambitions with its nuclear program and support for terrorist organizations.

Posted on August 20, 2012 .