President Morsi’s wind of change
On 12 August 2012, Muslim Brotherhood President Mohamed Morsi successfully asserted his authority against the Army, ordering the head of the army and defence minister, Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, and several senior generals into retirement and cancelling the constitutional amendments promulgated by the military restricting his presidential powers. That was an extraordinary achievement.
Since then, he has been
demonstrating in word and deed that under his presidency
He hasn’t set
out to antagonise the US, and most likely Egypt will continue to receive aid
from the US for now (around $1.5 billion annually, second only to Israel, together
they receive around a third of total US overseas aid). But it is clear that the Mubarak era of
he has joined
A few days
after he put the Army in its place, he made his first foreign trip as
president, attending the summit of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation
“President Morsi called for the replacement of the [Syrian] regime with a democratic government representative of all the country's ethnic and religious groups, but said this should be done without outside military intervention.” 
He obviously means “intervention” from the West, but does he
also include intervention from
In his UN speech, he mentioned this “new diplomatic initiative begun by
Morsi stops in Tehran
In late August,
having been invited to Washington, President Morsi chose instead to go to
Beijing and, on his way home, he made a short stop in Tehran for the 16th
summit of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM).
(Not much is heard of
Insofar as it functions as an organisation, it seems to be primarily as
a lobby group at the UN and its associated bodies, for example, the
International Atomic Energy Organisation (IAEA). Thus, for example, there is a
Seven out of the ten current non-permanent members of the Security Council are NAM members – Colombia, Guatemala, India, Morocco, Pakistan, South Africa and Togo.)
At the summit
The summit was
a considerable success for
Reports in the
West of Morsi’s speech at the summit concentrated on his criticism of the Assad
regime, and the consequent walkout of the Syrian delegation. But there were several other interesting
remarks (see, for example, Morsi sparks controversy with anti-Assad comments in
First, he went out of his way to please his Shia hosts. He began his speech with the usual Islamist reference: "May God's peace be upon his Prophet Mohamed”, but he went on to pay an unusual tribute in a political speech to the Sahaba (close associates) of Prophet Mohamed: Abu Bakr, Omar, Othman and Ali, the latter being the most holy member of the Prophet Mohamed's family in the eyes of Shias.
Speaking about the foundation of
Gamal Abdul Nasser joined the
On the face of it, it is remarkable
that an Islamist Egyptian president, from the ranks of the Muslim Brotherhood,
should make a positive remark about Nasser, who in his time suppressed the
Brotherhood. But it is not so remarkable
in reality, since Morsi, like Nasser, is attempting to free
Reform of the UN system is a
traditional theme at
This was also a major theme of the opening speech at the summit by the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei.
Speaking about Palestine, he supported full membership of the United Nations for a Palestinian state and promised to continue to promote Palestinian reconciliation (between Hamas and Fatah) so that the Palestinians can focus on the main issue, which, he said, is resistance to Israel's occupation – which is not the language his predecessor as president would have used.
In his speech to the UN, according to the Guardian:
“Morsi said the UN should make a priority of addressing the plight of the Palestinian people, saying that it was "shameful" that successive UN resolutions on the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories had not been enforced.” 
Morsi speaks to US
The New York Times published an interview with him on 22 September, under the apposite headline Egypt’s New Leader Spells Out Terms for US-Arab Ties . Here’s an extract from it:
eve of his first trip to the
“A former leader of the Muslim
it was up to
“I don't think we would consider them an ally, but we don't consider them an enemy.” 
Under Mubarak, Obama would have
Bridging the Sunni/Shia divide
What is more,
it looks as if bridging the Sunni/Shia divide is going to be at the heart of
that policy, with a high priority being given to good relations with
This could have
profound consequences for the Middle East, and more generally in the Muslim
world, since exploiting this division has been a key to the imperialist powers
maintaining their corrosive influence in the
At the OIC
summit in Jeddah (at which
Reuters reported on this as follows:
“In giving Iran’s leader such a prominent place at the summit — shown on Saudi state television — King Abdullah was making what analysts described as an important gesture.
“’It was a message to the Iranian nation and, I assume, to the Saudi people, that we are Muslim and we have to work together and forget about our differences’, said Abdullah Al Shammari, a Saudi political analyst.
“Ahmadinejad, wearing the dark suit and shirt without tie favoured by Iranian leaders, sat at the left hand of the king in his traditional Arab robes. The two were shown talking and sometimes laughing together.
“As each of the leaders, including those of major Middle Eastern and South Asian states, arrived in the entrance chamber, Abdullah rose to meet him followed by Ahmadinejad. …
“Analysts said the move to place
Ahmadinejad next to Abdullah was intended to soothe sectarian ill will across
“That message was reinforced in Abdullah’s opening speech to the conference, in which he proposed setting up a centre for dialogue between different Muslim sects.” 
Could it be that the Muslim world is going to get its act together at last and resist Western interference in its affairs?
28 September 2012