Iran perceives the Egyptian revolution as the direct continuation of the Islamist revolution of Ayatollah Khomeini. In Tehran’s view, the events in Egypt validate Iran’s political doctrine, according to which “true Islam” is the only alternative to the decades-long American hegemony in the Middle East and the path toward independence and the resurrection of the Islamic nations. Iran has stressed the similarities between the two nations and added that the fate of Mubarak will be similar to that of the Shah.
The Iranian Parliament has also condemned “Zionist and Western efforts to break the spirit of the revolution.” Speaker Ali Larijani said, “If the Americans are in real pursuit of democracy in Egypt, they should let the Egyptian people make their decision; in such a case they (the Egyptians) will show their hatred for the U.S.” He added, “The time has come to overcome puppet autocratic regimes by relying on Islamic teachings.” The Iranians have also highlighted the anti-Western and anti-Zionist character of the demonstrations.
Iran pointed out that the developments in Jordan and Egypt attest to the emergence of political Islam, which will lead to the complete encirclement of Israel and enable them to “avenge 60 years of Israeli crimes in Palestine” – according to the commander of the Basij (the voluntary militia of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards). Iran has viewed Egypt as a traitor for paving the way for normalization between Israel and the Arab world and thus playing into U.S. hands. Iran even severed diplomatic relations with Egypt after it signed the peace treaty with Israel and provided political asylum to Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.
Now, Iran sees an opportunity to reverse this trend as the Arab streets in Egypt and Jordan are no longer limited by the pro-Western regimes in publicly expressing their hatred toward Israel and the West. Iran will exploit the current changes to advance its Islamic agenda in order to deepen Israel’s isolation in the region and will try to bring about the termination of the peace treaties with Israel.
In 1982, Iran issued a postal stamp in memory of Khalid Islambouli, Sadat’s assassin, and even named a street after him in Tehran. In Tehran’s Martyrs Museum, he is remembered along with Ahmed Yassin, Yehye Ayash, Fathi Shaqaqi, Hizbullah’s former Secretary General Abbas al-Musawi, and Imad Mughniyah. Iran hopes that Islambouli’s standing in Iran will sway the Egyptian street and help turn the Middle East into Islamist territory under its influence.
Lt. Col. (ret.) Michael (Mickey) Segall is an expert on strategic issues, with a focus on Iran, terrorism, and the Middle East.