Sunday

3rd Mar 2024

Iranian diplomat: Egyptian protesters should beware EU help

  • The Green Movement in Iran is planning Egypt copy-cat protests in the coming days (Photo: Hamed Saber)

Iran's ambassador to the EU, Ali Asghar Khaji, has said that Egyptian protesters should be wary of EU and US patronage of the revolution due to the Western powers' historic relations with the Mubarak elite.

Speaking to EUobserver on Friday (11 February) at an event in Brussels to mark the 32nd anniversary of the Islamic revolution in Iran, Mr Khaji said: "The Egyptian people should remember that the US and the EU were the principal supporters of President Mubarak. After his election, [US] President Obama gave his first speech to the Islamic world in Cairo [in 2009]."

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Get the EU news that really matters

Instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

The ambassador welcomed the fall of President Hosni Mubarak, who abdicated power earlier the same day.

"It is very important that the Egyptian people have taken a step toward realising their objectives. The coincidence that this took place on the anniversary [of the Iranian revolution] is a good omen," he said.

"It is a very important and positive development for the region. We consider Egypt to be part of our region. It is a fellow Islamic country."

Asked if Iranian authorities are concerned that the current of popular uprisings in north Africa could embolden anti-government movements in Iran, he added: "No. We are not concerned. You must remember that the Iranian state is also the product of a popular revolution."

In terms of official ideology, Iran is depicting the events in Egypt as a mirror image of events in Iran in 1979, when Islamist opposition forces overthrew the regime of US ally, Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.

Iran would like to see the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood party in Egypt share power in a future coalition government.

It is concerned that if the EU-and-US-backed former Egyptian spy chief, Omar Suleiman, and the Egyptian army take over, it would be as if the revolution never happened.

It is also concerned that Egyptian opposition forces have no clear vision how to rule the country. One negative option for Tehran is a political vacuum in Egypt that would allow EU and US ally Turkey to take over Egypt's role as the pre-eminent Islamic power in the region.

Iran has become an international pariah primarily due to its alleged nuclear weapons programme.

But Mr Khaji's remarks about the popular nature of the 1979 uprising come in the context of Iran's brutal repression of latter-day anti-government movements. In 2009, at least 15 'Green Movement' demonstrators were killed in the streets. Iran in January executed on drugs charges a Dutch-Iranian woman who took part in the protests, prompting the Netherlands to cut diplomatic ties.

On the likelihood of an Egypt-type uprising in Iran in future, some analysts believe the Iranian opposition's "moment of opportunity" came and went two years ago.

But one diplomat from the region at Mr Khaji's anniversary event on Friday was not so sure.

"The revolution in Egypt happened because people were kept under pressure for too long, like a spring," the contact said. "You can keep a spring under pressure even for 1,000 years. But after 1,001 years, it will rebound."

The Wall Street Journal on Friday reported that the Green Movement has galvanised 30,000 people to take part in anti-government protests in the coming days on the back of events in Egypt.

EU docks €32m in funding to UN Gaza agency pending audit

The European Commission will release €50m out of €82m in funds for the UN aid agency (UNRWA) operating in Gaza. The remaining €32m will come pending an audit. The commission has received no evidence to support Israeli allegations against UNRWA.

'Outdated' rules bar MEP from entering plenary with child

During a plenary session in Strasbourg, an MEP was denied access to the chamber because he was carrying his young child, due to unforeseen circumstances. The episode shows parliament's rules need to be updated, several MEPs told EUobserver.

Commission plays down row over Rwanda minerals pact

The European Commission has played down a diplomatic row over its recent minerals agreement with Rwanda, after Congolese president Felix Tshishekedi, who accuses Rwanda of plundering his country's natural resources, described the deal as a "provocation in very bad taste".

'Outdated' rules bar MEP from entering plenary with child

During a plenary session in Strasbourg, an MEP was denied access to the chamber because he was carrying his young child, due to unforeseen circumstances. The episode shows parliament's rules need to be updated, several MEPs told EUobserver.

Opinion

Why are the banking lobby afraid of a digital euro?

Europeans deserve a digital euro that transcends the narrow interests of the banking lobby and embodies the promise of a fairer and more competitive monetary and financial landscape.

Latest News

  1. EU docks €32m in funding to UN Gaza agency pending audit
  2. 'Outdated' rules bar MEP from entering plenary with child
  3. Commission plays down row over Rwanda minerals pact
  4. EU socialists set to anoint placeholder candidate
  5. Why are the banking lobby afraid of a digital euro?
  6. Deepfake dystopia — Russia's disinformation in Spain and Italy
  7. Putin's nuclear riposte to Macron fails to impress EU diplomats
  8. EU won't yet commit funding UN agency in Gaza amid hunger

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic Food Systems Takeover at COP28
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersHow women and men are affected differently by climate policy
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersArtist Jessie Kleemann at Nordic pavilion during UN climate summit COP28
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP28: Gathering Nordic and global experts to put food and health on the agenda
  5. Friedrich Naumann FoundationPoems of Liberty – Call for Submission “Human Rights in Inhume War”: 250€ honorary fee for selected poems
  6. World BankWorld Bank report: How to create a future where the rewards of technology benefit all levels of society?

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsThis autumn Europalia arts festival is all about GEORGIA!
  2. UNOPSFostering health system resilience in fragile and conflict-affected countries
  3. European Citizen's InitiativeThe European Commission launches the ‘ImagineEU’ competition for secondary school students in the EU.
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region is stepping up its efforts to reduce food waste
  5. UNOPSUNOPS begins works under EU-funded project to repair schools in Ukraine
  6. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsGeorgia effectively prevents sanctions evasion against Russia – confirm EU, UK, USA

Join EUobserver

EU news that matters

Join us