Iran Supreme Guide Calls On Mursi To Follow Khomeinist Political Model

24 February 2013

By Amir Taheri

London/Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat-Iran's ?Supreme Guide? Ali Khamenei has called on Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi to adopt the ?Iranian model? and join Tehran in ?building the new Islamic civilization? based on the teachings of the late Ayatollah Khomeini.

The invitation to Mursi comes in the form of a 1,200-words letter signed on Khamenei's behalf by his 17 closest advisors including ? The Leader's Advisor on Foreign Affairs? Ali-Akbar Velayati.

The letter opens with greetings to Mursi on the occasion of the second anniversary of the ?Egyptian Revolution? and Mursi's own election as president.

According to the letter, under velayat-e faqih(Guardianship of the Jurists), Iran has become ?one of the most advanced countries? in the world in a range of scientific, technological, and economic fields.

The letter claims that the right to govern human societies belongs to God, his Prophet and, through him, those enjoying divine favor, a code-word for Ahl el-Bayt (companions and relatives of the prophet).

?The best path in life,? the letter asserts,? is one that is inspired by velayat.? According to the letter, Khomeini was a great philosopher and theologian of rare stature in the history of Islam. Thus, it is incumbent on Muslims everywhere to follow his teachings especially with regard to ?relentless fight against Zionism and Global Arrogance.? The letter claims that even the West is now trying to return to the path of faith. ?This return to faith is caused by the impasse created by growth without religion,? the letter asserts.

?Iran's Muslim thinkers are willing to make their scientific abilities available to the noble government and people of Egypt,? the latter promises.

It continues, ?Because you enjoy a deep capacity for faith, philosophy and thought and because you are at the head of a nation that is heir to Islamic civilization, we urge you to base and model your government only on Islam. You should ignore international pressures and the influence of so-called intellectuals who seek a separation of religion and politics.? According to the letter, ?New Egypt? should be built in strict accordance with the teachings of Islam as reflected in the Iranian model of development.

The letter also suggests that all international conflicts be resolved on the basis of religious, especially Islamic, teachings.

It says: ?Humanist positions cannot provide a complete answer to mankind's spiritual and material needs.? In a series of assertions, often citing Western sources, the letter claims that Iran is now the leading nation in the Middle East. It also claims that with a GDP of over $1.2 trillion, Iran is the largest economic power in the Muslim world. The letter claims that Khomeini's teachings and Khamenei's leadership have also enabled Iran to enter the space age and master nuclear technology.

Iran's aim under Khamenei's leadership is to offer mankind an alternative to the Western model of development. The Khomeinist model would be ?based on Islam's progressist principles? rather than the ?domineering diktats of the West and international Zionism.? According to Iranian political analysts, the letter indicates Iran's desperate quest to establish a foothold in Egypt. Iran's official media have always claimed that the ?Arab Spring? was, in fact, an ?Islamic Awakening? inspired by Khomeini's teachings and Khamenei's leadership. However, the trouble is that none of the ?Arab Spring? countries have diplomatic relations with the Islamic Republic.

Two issues make it hard for Tehran to achieve rapprochement with the ?Arab Spring? countries. The first is Khamenei's decision to stand by President Bashar al-Assad's regime to the bitter end. The second is Khamenei's claim to be ?Wali al-Amr al-Muslimeen? (Custodian of Muslims) throughout the world.

According to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad this latter point was brought up in all of his meetings with Egyptian opinion-makers, including a session at Al-Azhar.

Speaking in Tehran, Ahmadinejad claimed that some of Khamenei's speeches in Arabic have ?caused misunderstandings? in Egypt and that he had tried to ?sort things out.? Ahmadinejad wants Khamenei to tone down his claim of leading the entire Muslim world and be satisfied with a more modest position as Iran's ?Supreme Guide.? Therefore, the letter to Mursi may be a counter-attack by Khamenei who is annoyed at Ahmadinejad's implicit criticism.

Senior Egyptian security officials, speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat on the condition of anonymity, also revealed that Egypt's security apparatus have reported to president that ?there is more disadvantage than advantage in rapprochement with Iran at the present time? citing Tehran's worsening relations with the international community over its nuclear program.

The security source also revealed that the Egyptian presidency had received several letters and messages from Tehran and other sources close to Iran urging Cairo to accept bilateral cooperation in four key areas, namely political, security, economic and technological cooperation. The source told Asharq Al-Awsat that Cairo is divided on how to respond to this.

The letter which has caused a sensation in Tehran may also be seen as an attempt at countering all the talk about the influence of the secularist ?Turkish model? in countries affected by the so-called ?Arab Spring?.

To woo Egypt, Tehran has abolished visas for Egyptian citizens, promised several billion dollars of investments in the Egyptian economy, and set up an office to prepare for Iranian pilgrimage to Cairo on a massive scale. The severed head of Hussein Ibn Ali, the third Imam of Shi'ism, is said to be buried in Cairo and could attract up to a million Iranian pilgrims a year. This is especially important because Iranian pilgrims are no longer able to go to Syria to visit the shrine of Zeynab, Imam Hussein's sister. The number of Iranian pilgrims to Iraq has also dropped sharply because of the fall in the value of the Iranian currency. Iraq has become an expensive destination while Egypt is still affordable for most Iranians.

Amir Taheri was born in Ahvaz, southwest Iran, and educated in Tehran, London and Paris. He was Executive Editor-in-Chief of the daily Kayhan in Iran (1972-79). In 1980-84, he was Middle East Editor for the Sunday Times. In 1984-92, he served as member of the Executive Board of the International Press Institute (IPI). Between 1980 and 2004, he was a contributor to the International Herald Tribune. He has written for the Wall Street Journal, the New York Post, the New York Times, the London Times, the French magazine Politique Internationale, and the German weekly Focus. Between 1989 and 2005, he was editorial writer for the German daily Die Welt. Taheri has published 11 books, some of which have been translated into 20 languages. He has been a columnist for Asharq Alawsat since 1987. Taheri's latest book "The Persian Night" is published by Encounter Books in London and New York.



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