Newly elected Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi’s attendance at the Non-Aligned Movement summit in Tehran marks the first visit by an Egyptian leader to Iran in decades, after diplomatic ties between the two countries were severed in 1979. CFR’s Hasib J. Sabbagh Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies, Steven A. Cook, highlights three things to know about the visit:
Domestic posturing: Morsi’s visit is first and foremost about domestic politics, Cook says. Former president Hosni Mubarak’s foreign policy was profoundly unpopular with the vast majority of Egyptians, he explains, and President Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood are eager to demonstrate that this is a "new era" in Egyptian foreign policy.
Regional ambitions: The Muslim Brotherhood and President Morsi are also seeking to "establish a foreign policy that is independent of the United States," Cook says, which they hope will help Egypt "regain its lost regional luster and influence."
Washington takeaways: These developments "are not necessarily bad things for the United States," Cook emphasizes. If Morsi’s approach is successful in reestablishing Egypt’s regional leadership in the Middle East, it will become "a more appropriate interlocutor for the United States," he says.