News channel France 24 hosted a panel Monday night to discuss Egypt’s first civilian president, the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi. One of the guests on the panel, via satellite from Cairo, was Nader Amram, a member of the Freedom & Justice Party’s foreign relations committee. (The Freedom & Justice Party (FJP) is the Muslim Brotherhood’s political party.)
When Amram learned that an Israeli journalist was also included on the panel, he protested that he had not been informed beforehand that he would have to appear with an Israeli. He then launched into a mini-diatribe about how Israel is the real problem in the Middle East and refused to discuss matters further with the Israeli.
Amram’s unwillingness to take part in a discussion with an Israeli is a good indication of the possible troubles ahead in relations between Egypt and Israel. When the panel’s host pointed out that the two countries are at peace, Amram said he was not speaking for his country, just himself. The problem is that the Brotherhood certainly has many, many more men like Amram in its ranks. Anti-Semitism is in the Brotherhood’s DNA.
See the 15:10 mark in the video here.
In the second part of the interview, Amram is asked about Morsi’s purported recent interview with Fars News Agency (FNA), which is a front for Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). Morsi reportedly said that an alliance between Iran and Egypt can create a new “strategic balance” in the region, and said that Egypt “must restore normal relations with Iran based on shared interests, and expand areas of political coordination and economic cooperation because this will create a balance of pressure in the region.”
While Morsi did not name the nations Iran and Egypt would presumably “pressure,” it is safe to assume that Israel is among them.
Amram did not deny that Morsi granted the interview to FNA. (Morsi’s office has alleged that the Iranians fabricated the entire interview.) Instead, about 2 minutes into the second part of the panel, Amram said that Morsi made his comments regarding Iran before he was named president. Amram added that Morsi hopes he will build “normal and diplomatic relations with all the world’s countries, not only Iran.”
Despite claiming that he did not speak for Morsi, Amram said this is what Morsi really meant.
But that’s not how the Morsi interview with FNA reads.
Thomas Joscelyn is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.