Monday, January 30, 2012

Iran sends congratulatory letter to Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood

The speaker of the Iranian parliament, Ali Larijani, on Wednesday, sent a congratulatory letter to senior Muslim Brotherhood member, Saad al-Katatni, on his ascension to the post of parliamentary speaker of the new Egyptian government and on the inauguration of the new parliament.

Larijani noted in the letter that the inauguration of the new parliament, in which the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party and the Islamic al-Nour party, the country's two main Islamic parties, secured over three quarters of the 498 seats, was an important step toward the establishment of a regime based on Islamic tenets.

So far, no word as to whether President Obama had sent a similar letter of congratulations to Mr. Katatni. However, it is worth noting that Mr. Obama's outreach to the Muslim Brotherhood extends all the way back to the early days of his Presidency.

In June of 2009, Arab news sources reported that, under pressure from the the Obama administration, the Secretariat-General of the lower house of the Egyptian Parliament invited ten members of the Muslim Brotherhood parliamentary bloc to attend Barack Obama’s speech in Cairo.

Similarly, The Atlantic, at the time, cited various Middle Eastern news sources who reported that the Obama administration insisted that at least 10 members of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood be allowed to attend his speech in Cairo.

Additionally, in April of 2009, an Egyptian newspaper reported that President Obama [in February of '09] had met with members of the Muslim Brotherhood.The newspaper reported that Obama met the group's members, who reside in the U.S. and Europe, in Washington, and that the members requested that news of the meeting not be publicized.

It is also worth noting that some of the current leaders of the Muslim brotherhood were ardent disciples of the notorious Sayyid Qutb, who, as the Long War Journal noted, was "the leading Islamic theologian of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood in the 1950s and '60s who advocated armed struggle to impose Islamic law." The Long War Journal noted that Qutb "is widely, and correctly, described as the intellectual forefather of al Qaeda, which still references his writings to this day... The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood openly sided with Khomeini's revolutionaries as they overthrew the Shah of Iran."

In his letter to Mr. Katatni, Mr. Larijani said he hoped that brotherly ties between Iran and Egypt would grow stronger.

The aforementioned letter comes on the heels of a recent letter that President Obama had sent to Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in which he called for direct talks with the Iranian regime and, according to senior Iranian officials, pledged that the U.S. will not take any hostile action against the Islamic Republic of Iran.

According to Iranian officials, President Obama sent a message to Iran via three different channels, including US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and Swiss Ambassador to Iran Livia Leu Agosti.

The President has been known to rely heavily on his trusted blackberry to send out text messages and emails etc., however, when it comes to conveying friendly greetings to amiable heads of state, it seems the old methods of messaging - via pen, paper and emissaries - are the preferred methods of choice for Mr. Obama, and for Mr. Larijani as well.