In his short tenure as Egypt’s popularly elected president, Mohammed Morsi has proved difficult to predict. The Muslim Brotherhood leader is trying to balance a military leadership that views him with suspicion and a population clamoring for the future they envisioned when so many took to Tahrir Square in 2011. But when Morsi announced that he would attend an international conference hosted by Iran, some American analysts feared he had turned his back on Western support. Had the West lost Egypt? This week, though, Morsi surprised everyone, including his hosts in Tehran, by using the conference as an occasion to criticize the Iranian government.
During the conference of the self-described Non-Aligned Movement, Morsi spoke about the need to support the Syrian rebels against Bashar Assad and his Iranian-supported regime. Far from giving Iran’s leaders credibility, Morsi exposed just how isolated the regime has become in its pro-Syria stance. While Morsi did not specifically endorse military intervention, he did note that the “bloodshed in Syria is the responsibility of all of us.”
Morsi’s visit was the first between Iran and Egypt since the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Tehran. The two regional powerhouses have much in common, including a tumultuous neighborhood. Yet while Morsi supports Iran’s ability to make nuclear energy, he’s also shown that Egypt’s evolving foreign policy in the post-Mubarak era doesn’t mean the country will cozy up to Iran.