Morsi Delivers His Calling Card

You’d better not mess with Muslim Brother Morsi.

Straight out of “communist” China — where he secured a red carpet welcome from President Hu Jintao and vice-president Xi Jinping — the Egyptian president lands in “evil” Iran as a true Arab world leader.1

Imagine conducting a poll in Tampa, Florida, among delegates at the Republican convention anointing the dodgy Mitt Romney-Paul Ryan duo as their presidential ticket. Chances are Morsi would be ranked worse than Hitler (oh no; that was Saddam. Or maybe Osama. Or maybe Ahmadinejad … )

Tampa-Tehran. Talk about the ultimate snapshot of the current geopolitical divide. On one side, the 1% crowd yelling for blood – be it from Barack Obama or from assorted Muslims. On the other side, the bulk of the real “international community”, practically the whole global South (including observers such as China, Brazil, Argentina and Mexico) refusing to bend over to imperialist military/financial diktats. Reaffirming its impeccable journalistic credentials, US corporate media dismisses it all as just “a Third World jamboree”.

Anyway, the big news is that Egypt is back. In other news, the Washington-Tel Aviv axis is apoplectic.

Morsi may be walking like the proverbial Egyptian in popular imagination; sideways. In fact he’s advancing all the time. By now it’s clear that Egypt’s new foreign policy if focused on restoring Cairo, historically the intellectual hub of the Arab world, to its leadership position — usurped by the oil-rich barbarians from the House of Saud during those decades when Egypt was a mere lowly servant of Washington’s geopolitical designs.

Those were the (long gone) days — over three decades ago — when Tehran broke relations with Cairo over Egypt’s signing of the Camp David accords. Morsi’s attendance of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit in Tehran may not yet signal the return of full diplomatic relations, as Morsi spokesman Yasser Ali has been spinning. But it’s an earth-shattering diplomatic coup.

Enter the new great game

A quick recap is in order. Morsi’s first crucial foreign trip was to Saudi Arabia, for the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) meeting in Mecca. The House of Saud regards the Muslim Brotherhood with extreme suspicion, to say the least. Right after that Morsi got a personal visit from the Emir of Qatar, and a US$2 billion check with no strings attached; then he immediately sacked the old leadership of the Orwellian Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF).

Meanwhile, Morsi had already launched Egypt’s plan to solve the interminable Syrian tragedy; a contact group uniting Egypt, Iran, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia. No Syrian solution will be achieved without these key foreign players — with Egypt being careful to position itself as the mediator between Iran and Turkey/Saudi interests (which amount to the same; in 2008 Turkey struck a strategic, political, economic and security accord with the GCC).

With just one stroke, Morsi cut off the head of a fake snake being sold to Washington for years by the Jordanian King Playstation and the House of Saud; that of an “evil” Shi’ite crescent from Iran to Lebanon via Iraq and Syria undermining the “stability” of the Middle East.

What Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah and Jordan’s younger Abdullah II in fact fear is the unrest and rage of their own populations, not to mention the mere idea of democracy; it’s easy to blame rampant Shi’ism for everything because Washington is gullible, or expedient, enough to buy it.

The “Shi’ite crescent” myth can be debunked in a number of ways. Here’s just one that I have witnessed in person, on the spot, for quite a while during the mid-2000s. Tehran knows that the majority of Iraq’s powerful clergy are totally adverse to the Khomeinist concept of the Islamic Republic. No wonder Tehran is very much worried about the renaissance of Najaf in Iraq as the premier holy city in Shi’ite Islam, to the detriment of Qom in Iran.

Washington buys this propaganda because it’s right at the heart of the New Great Game. Whatever the administration in place, from Bush to Obama and beyond, a key Washington obsession is to neutralize what is seen as a Shi’ite axis from Lebanon, via Syria and Iraq, across Iran and all the way to Afghanistan.

A mere look at the map tells us this axis is at center of the humongous US military deployment in Asia — facing China and Russia. Obviously the best intel in Beijing and Moscow has identified it for years.

The Russians and the Chinese see how the Pentagon “manages” — indirectly — a great deal of the region’s oil reserves, including the Shi’ite northeast of Saudi Arabia. And they see how Iran, as the gravity center of the whole region, cannot but be Washington’s ultimate obsession. The nuclear row is just a pretext — the only one in the market, actually. Ultimately, it’s not a matter of destroying Iran, but of subjugating it to the condition of a docile ally.

Into this hardcore power play steps in Brother Morsi, reshuffling a deck of cards as lightning quick as a Sheldon Adelson-employed Macau croupier. What might have taken months and perhaps years — the sidelining of the old SCAF leadership, Qatar being privileged to the detriment of Saudi Arabia, a presidential visit to Tehran, Egypt stepping up as a leader of the Arab world was accomplished in barely two months.

Of course it will all depend on how the Egypt-Iran relationship develops, and whether Qatar, and even Iran, are able to help the Muslim Brotherhood to keep Egypt from not collapsing (there’s no money for anything; a $36 billion annual deficit; nearly half the population is illiterate; and the country imports half of its food).

Take me back to Camp David

The immediate problem with Egypt’s contact group for Syria is that Turkey — in yet another stance of its spectacularly counter-productive foreign policy — decided to boycott NAM. Yet Egypt is undeterred, proposing to add Iraq and Algeria to the contact group.2

And in steps Tehran with yet another diplomatic “sweeping” proposal, according to the Foreign Ministry; a NAM troika of Egypt, Iran, and Venezuela, plus Syria’s neighbors Iraq and Lebanon. So everybody wants to talk — apart, given the evidence, from Turkey. Tehran’s proposal is fully supported by Russia.

And just as US corporate media coverage was reveling in the hate speeches at the millionaires’ convention in Tampa, “isolated” Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei meets with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in Tehran and calls for a nuclear-free Middle East.3

Not exactly the stance of a “new Hitler” who wants a nuclear bomb … yesterday, as the warmongering Bibi-Barak duo in Israel ceaselessly spin. And certainly a very popular global South denunciation of Washington’s cosmic hypocrisy of willfully ignoring Israel’s nuclear arsenal while squeezing Iran for its nuclear program.

Needless to say, none of this has been reported by US corporate media.

Meanwhile, all global South eyes are on Morsi. They way things are moving, it’s not far-fetched to imagine the Muslim Brotherhood playing the Camp David card sooner or later. In that case, expect Washington to go ballistic — and even time travel to 1970s Latin America, as in promoting (yet another) military coup.

The bottom line is, if the Muslim Brotherhood really articulates an independent foreign policy over the next few months, with even a hint that Camp David should be renegotiated (over 90% of Egyptians would support it), the warmongering Bibi-Barak duo had better get real.

  • First published at Asia Times.
    1. Chinese VP, Egypt president vow to boost ties,” China Daily. []
    2. Bisan Kassab, “The Egyptian Initiative: Banking on Syrian Fatigue,” Alakhbar. []
    3. Leader urges UN to help create nuclear-free Middle East,” Press TV. []

    Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007) and Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009). He writes for Asia Times Online where this article first appeared and may be reached at pepeasia@yahoo.com. Read other articles by Pepe.