Morsi’s Wrong Turn
31/08/2012 7 comentarios
I find it very disturbing that one of the first trips by Egypt’s newly elected president, Mohamed Morsi, will be to attend the Nonaligned Movement’s summit meeting in Tehran this week. Excuse me, President Morsi, but there is only one reason Iranian regime wants to hold the meeting in Tehran and have heads of state like you attend, and that is to signal to Iran’s people that the world approves of their country’s clerical leadership, therefore they should never, ever, ever again think about launching a democracy movement, the exact same kind of democracy movement brought you, Mr. Morsi, to power in Egypt. (Thomas L. Friedman – NYTimes – 29/08/2012)
In 2009, this Iranian regime literally killed the Green Revolution. It gunned down hundreds and jailed thousands of Iranians who wanted the one thing that Egyptians got: to have their votes counted honestly and the results respected. Morsi, who was brought to power by a courageous democracy revolution that neither he nor his Muslim Brotherhood party started, but who benefited from the free and fair election that followed, is lending his legitimacy to an Iranian regime that brutally crushed just such a movement in Tehran. This does not augur well for Morsi’s presidency. In fact, he should be ashamed of himself. “The Iranian regime has offered Morsi a sanitized tour of its nuclear facilities” noted Karim Sadjadpour, the Iran expert at the Carnegie Endowment. “As a former political prisoner in Mubarak’s Egypt, Morsi should also request a visit to Tehran’s notorious Evin prison. It will remind him of his own past, and offer him a glimpse of Iran’s future.” Egyptian officials say Morsi is only stopping in Tehran for a few hours to hand over the presidency of the Nonaligned Movement to Iran from Egypt. Really? He could have done that by mail. It would have sent a powerful democratic message. By the way, what is the Nonaligned Movement anymore? “Nonaligned against what and between whom?” asked Michael Mandelbaum, foreign policy specialist at Johns Hopkins. The Nonaligned Movement was conceived at the Bandung summit in 1955, but there was a logic to it then. The world was divided between Western democratic capitalists and Eastern Communists, and developing states like Egypt, Yugoslavia and Indonesia declared themselves “nonaligned” with these two blocs. But “there is no Communist bloc today,” said Mandelbaum. “The main division in the world is between democratic and undemocratic countries.” Is Morsi nonaligned in that choice? Is he nonaligned when it comes to choosing between democracies and dictatorships, especially Iranian one that is so complicit in crushing Syrian rebellion as well? And by the way, why is Ban Ki-moon, United Nations secretary general, lending his hand to this Iranian whitewashing festival? What a betrayal of Iranian democrats.
This has nothing to do with Israel or Iran’s nukes. If Morsi wants to maintain a cold peace with Israel, that is his business. As for Morsi himself, I’d like to see him succeed in turning Egypt around. It would be a huge boost to democracy in the Arab world. But what Egypt needs most will not be found in Tehran. Morsi’s first big trip shouldn’t have been to just China and Iran. It should have been all across Europe and Asia to reassure investors and tourists Egypt is open for business again, maybe on to Silicon Valley, then Caltech to meet with Egypt’s Nobel Prize-winning chemist, Ahmed Zewail, to signal a commitment to reviving education in Egypt, where half women are illiterate. If Morsi needs a primer on democracy movement in Iran (whose Islamic regime broke relations with Egypt in 1979 to protest the peace treaty with Israel) he can read the one offered by Stanford’s Iran expert, Abbas Milani, on the United States Institute of Peace Web site: “Green Movement reached its height when up to 3 million peaceful demonstrators turned out on Tehran streets to protest official claims that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had won the 2009 presidential election in a landslide. Their simple slogan was: ‘Where is my vote?’ … Over next six months, the Green Movement evolved from a mass group of angry voters to a nationwide force demanding democratic rights originally sought in 1979 revolution, rights that were hijacked by radical clerics. … As momentum grew behind the Green Movement, government response was increasingly tough. In the fall of 2009, more than 100 of Green Movement’s most important leaders, activists and theorists appeared in show trials reminiscent of Joseph Stalin’s infamous trials in 1930s.” By early 2010, the regime had quashed all public opposition. That is the regime Morsi will be helping to sanitize. One at least hopes he read the letter sent to him by an Iranian democracy group, Green Messengers of Hope, urging Morsi to remind his Iranian hosts “of the fates of leaders who kept turning their backs on votes of their people, and to urge them to govern their country relying on support of Iranian people rather than military forces.” Morsi might want to even remind himself of that.