Wednesday, March 29, 2023

The Iranian regime’s new en­emy, it seems, is Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi. Iran’s mullahs apparently fear Sisi’s secular stance against Islamist movements, and see him as an obstacle to Iran’s fu­ture influence in the Middle East.

According to the Jordan-based media outlet Al-Bawaba, Iran is de­termined to put an end to Al-Sisi’s rule by training the Libya-based Is­lamist group known as the Free Egyptian Army [FEA]. The FEA is composed of both Egyptian jihad­ists who went to fight in Syria during the rule of Egypt’s former President, the Islamist Mohamed Morsi, as well as other Egyptian Muslim Brother­hood militants who fled from Egypt to Libya after Morsi was removed from power. According to Al Bawa­ba, personnel of the Quds Force— the special-forces arm of Iran’s Islam­ic Revolutionary Guard Corps [IRGC] —arrived in Libya to train the FEA in Misrata, northwestern Libya. Quds Force officers met with FEA leaders -- reportedly Abu Dawud Zouhairi and Karam Amrani. There, Lebanese jihadists coming from Syria and led by Abu Fahed Al-Islam also joined the FEA.

Iran is planning an offensive against Egypt not only from the west (Libya), but also from the south.

The Egyptian newspaper El- Watan reports that the Iran has also deployed Quds Force per­sonnel to Sudan, to take advan­tage of the deterioration of the relationship between the Is­lamist-led Sudanese govern­ment and Sisi’s Egypt, and is now training Muslim Brother­hood militants in Sudan. A Jor­danian newspaper, Al-Arab Al- Yawm, confirmed the news, and reported in addition that Iran is organizing violent operations to destabilize Egypt from Libya and Sudan.

Although in the Middle East, Sunni and Shia factions usual­ly fight each other, this time an unholy Sunni-Shia alliance has been formed between Shia Iran and the Sunni Muslim Brother­hood to fight their common en­emy: Al-Sisi.

For years, Iran’s regime has dreamt of seeing the Muslim Broth­erhood rise in Egypt as part of a plan to Islamize the Middle East. In this vision Iran would take the leadership role—brushing aside that for years, Iran and Saudi Ara­bia have jockeyed over who would assume the leadership of the Mus­lim world. As the Muslim Brother­hood has always been opposed to the Saudi Kingdom, it was taken for granted that an Egypt governed by the Muslim Brotherhood would be the natural ally of Iran.

As Iranian author and jour­nalist Amir Taheri describes in the Saudi-owned newspaper, Asharq Al-Awsat, Iran cherished Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood-backed former President, Mo­hamed Morsi. Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khame­nei, and President Morsi, Taheri writes, were supposed to sym­bolize the triumph of radical Is­lam. The leadership in Tehran apparently also felt that it had to “profit from its political, propa­ganda and even financial invest­ment” in ensuring Morsi’s elec­tion.

Khamenei took care to woo the newly-elected Morsi to bring Egypt to Iran’s side. He even started speaking about an “Islamic Awak­ening” in Egypt, and hinting that what was happening in Egypt was similar to Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revo­lution. The Iranian Ministry for Cul­ture and Islamic Guidance, accord­ing to Taheri, even decreed that the media should no longer use the phrase “Arab Spring,” but “Islamic Awakening.”

“This is an Islamic awaken­ing inspired by Imam Khomei­ni’s revolution in Iran,” the Ira­nian diplomat and Khamenei’s long-serving adviser, Ali Akbar Velayati said, in a presumed at­tempt to have Iran adopt pater­nity for the Arab Spring. But as Morsi evidently considered him­self sufficiently powerful after winning the election, he failed to endorse Khamenei’s superi­ority in “an imaginary hierarchy of claims for the leadership of political Islam,” in the words of Amir Taheri.

The Iranian regime now has long-term plans, and the Muslim Brotherhood needs the help of Iran to fight their common en­emy: Egypt’s President Al-Sisi. Should they succeed this time, Iran will no doubt demand that the Muslim Brotherhood public­ly recognize Iran as the leader of the Muslim world.

By Anna Mahjar-Barducci, Gatestone Institue

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