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Egypt Lashes out at Syria at Conference in Tehran, Iran

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On Thursday, U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon and Egypt’s president Mohammed Morsi shocked attendees at the 16th annual Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit in Tehran with harsh speeches, placing a damper on Iran’s efforts for global support of its nuclear program and Syria policy.

Egypt Lashes out at Syria at Conference in Tehran, Iran

This probably didn’t come as any surprise to the United States and Israel who had not supported the two in attending the summit.

The host country had to endure Ki-moon denouncing it in its calls for Israel’s destruction and denying the Holocaust, reported Reuters. This came after earlier remarks by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who has denied the Holocaust numerous times and called Israel a “cancerous tumour” earlier this month.

But that was just the beginning.

Mohammed Morsi, Egypt’s first leader to visit Iran since the 1979 Islamic revolution and its new Islamist president, shocked attendees with his recommendation that NAM members back Syrians’ attempts to overthrow Iran’s Arab ally, President Bashar al-Assad.

He also said in his address that he was attending the summit “announce our full and just support for a free, independent Syria that supports a transition into a democratic system and that respects the will of the Syrian people for freedom and equality.” Ironically, Mohammed Morsi is cracking down on the press in Egypt and now has more power than former dictator Hosni Mubarak.

Deputy Israeli Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon thought Ban would have sent a stronger message by boycotting the NAM summit.

Ayalon told Israel Radio via Reuters of Ban, “His going there harmed the message and really sabotaged the efforts, which are so critical today, to stop the illegal Iranian nuclear activity.”

But the two speakers did receive a thumbs up from Meir Javedanfar, an Iranian-Israeli expert at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, Israel. He thought Mohammed Morsi and Ban should get be applauded for being blunt and said, “Mursi’s tatement on Syria will be viewed as a serious challenge against Iran’s narrative on Syria ” He added that Israel owed Ban a thanks for speaking out.

Javedanfar added, “In the history of the Islamic Republic, nobody has challenged the supreme leader’s (Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s) position on Israel in front of him, and in such a manner. This is likely to have long-term reverberations and consequences inside Iran’s halls of power.”

According to Reuters, in Ali Khamenei’s speech he had criticized the U.N. Security Council as a tool used by the United States “to impose its bullying manner on the world. They (Americans) talk of human rights when what they mean is Western interests. They talk of democracy when what they have is military intervention in other countries.”

Based on Mursi’s blunt Syrain remarks, it appears there will may not be an early restoration of Egyptian-Iranian diplomatic ties after all. This had broken down after the Iranian revolution over Egypt’s support for the Shah and its peace agreement with Israel.  Egypt now being a Wahhabi lead Arab country, might see Iran, a Persian shia, country as a threat.

Mohammed Mursi and Ahmadinejad also had a separate 40-minute meeting during the course of the summit. Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said it was a “friendly atmosphere.” It represented the highest-level communication in more than 30 years for the two countries.

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Sheeraz Raza

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