From the Iranian perspective, Arab Spring and movements for Islamic resurgence in the Arab world were inspired by Islamic Revolution (1979) in Iran. It was perceiving that the Western opposition had played its role to these movements in the target region.

Hence, the local population has been awakened and has chosen a revolutionary model of resistance against this kind of arrogance. Egyptians, who were under the control of global arrogance, have woken up. So their policy of the export of revolution led to success in the entire region, which led the collapse of dictatorship in Egypt, isolation of Israel, strengthening of Islamist discourses and transformations in the regional order. This utopian view affected Iran's foreign policy in North Africa and led to a kind of optimism among Iranian officials especially conservatives in the first days of 2011.

Egypt remained as a regional rival to Iran. Therefore, Iranian administration welcomed revolution in Egypt and asked Mubarak to transfer the power to the people. Iran's state TV broadcasted live developments happening in Egypt until the fall of Mubarak. Iran FM said, “who thought that the Egyptian revolution comes to victory so soon”. Saeed Jalili, secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council said: “Hosni Mubarak and his American and European supporters have heard the voice of the Egyptian people for a delay of thirty years. The coincidence of Mubarak's fall on Victory Day of Iran’s Islamic Revolution (11 February) made it an example in the history of future celebrations of Victory Day of Revolution of two nations on the same day. They denoted it to the failure of the United States and Zionism in the region”

Up to Morsi's coming to power as president of Egypt, Iran was in favor of civilian rule in Egypt, but Morsi's election made fearful to Iran for facing disruption in regional balance. Although, Iran tried to come close to Muslim Brotherhood and Morsi’s administration. Even, Qasem Soleimani secretly visited Egypt, but the condemnation of Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas to the regime of Bashar Al Assad led their agitation with Iranian foreign policy. Subsequently, Iran lost Hamas as its strong proxy power.

The main blow from Morsi came when he visited Iran to participate in the meeting of the XVI NAM Summit in Tehran. He implicitly condemned Iranian policy toward Syria and said: “our solidarity with the children of beloved Syria against an oppressive regime that has lost its legitimacy is a moral duty as much as a political and strategic necessity that stems from our belief in a coming future for the free proud Syria”. His words provoked great reactions in Iran and Iranian media. Resultantly, Iran saw Morsi as arrogant and useless for Iranian interests. So, Muslim Brotherhood-run Egypt became a natural ally to the Syrian opposition. Besides of Egypt, Turkey was also part of the opposition, which was engaged in Syrian war indirectly. Therefore, Iran preferred to dump Mursi for the preservation of its national interests.

In general, the power exercised by Morsi could undermine the regional order, where Iran could stand alone in opposition of the United States and Israel. These events persuaded Iran that Morsi could not be a credible ally of Iran against West and its extended allies. Therefore, Iran did not support Muslim Brotherhood in opposition of military coup in 2013. Resultantly, Egyptian opposition to Iran in Syria was dismantled at home. Although, Iran lost Hamas in these throes, but took a lesson from this development that Arab revolutionaries could not be trusted blindly. Initially, Iran perceived Arab Spring as like as a revolutionary movement of Iran in 1970s, but it observed a larger gap in their goals is diverted to a variety of reasons. Subsequently, Iran sought a secular government in Egypt rather than a Sunni ally Islamist state.

The new Egyptian regime diverted its opposing policies towards Syrian regime and Iran. Later, Iraqi government played its mediating role between Egyptian and Iranian administrations to have a mutual fair play in future. Despite of such reciprocal confidence building measures, Iran observes Saudi influence in Egypt that may heart this mechanism between Iran and Egypt, because Egyptians immediate needs are being fulfilled by Saudi regime. Finally, I can say that Iran is pursuing a foreign policy as usual as it has managed the threats coming from Egypt heart Iran since 2011.

Conclusion

Current Iranian policy towards Egypt is further realistic rather than its previous idealistic stance towards civilian government. Therefore, Iran has made itself relevant in the regional changes, where it has managed to win the regional complex equations without paying a high cost. So, the global powers must learn to consider Iran as one of the capable regional players, as Trump administration cannot ignore this reality.

Sayyad Sadri Alibabalu is a Ph. D. candidate in Middle East Studies at Sakarya University in Turkey. His studies focus on foreign policy of Iran and Turkey, terrorism and security issues. Follow him in @Arpacay31795411

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