CAIRO (JWN and agencies)—Egyptian President-elect Muhammad Morsi on Sunday announced as his first strategic goal to expand relations with Iran in order to forge a strategic “balance” in the region, according to Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency.
Morsi’s election as the candidate of the Muslim Brotherhood over secular former prime minister Ahmed Shafiq was confirmed on Sunday. Election officials said Morsi received 51.7 percent of the vote in a runoff election against Shafiq.
Fars quoted Morsi as saying he is interested in establishing better relations with Tehran as part of his vision for a peaceful Middle East. “This will create a balance of pressure in the region, and this is part of my program,” Morsi said.
In Morsi’s first speech to the nation as president-elect, he also made an indirect reference to ongoing relations with Israel, including the peace treaty, vowing to “preserve international accords and obligations.”
Morsi promised to be a president to all Egyptians, “Muslims, Christians, the elderly, children, women, men, farmers, teachers, workers, those who work in the private and public sectors, and the merchants.” There was no reference to plans to Islamicize the country.
The president-elect honored Egypt’s citizens who had sacrificed their lives as martyrs in the revolution to oust his predecessor, dictator Hosni Mubarak. He acknowledged to the nation that he would not have become president without their sacrifice.
Contrary to expectations that he would attack the country’s military rulers for trying to limit the presidential powers, Morsi called the army and police his “brothers.” He will have to work with the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces—which has promised to hand power over to civilian rule—to produce a democratic constitution.
The one area where Morsi is expected to have a showdown with the SCAF is over its dissolution of parliament, which he told Fars was aimed at him as the Islamist candidate.
“The dissolution of Majlis al-Sha’b [parliament] targeted me,” Morsi told Fars. “When the generals saw that I became close to the presidential post, they made attempts to claim certain authorities in their interest.”
The move was opposed by most political parties, which called for a referendum on it and accused the generals of wanting to monopolize power ahead of the planned handover to civilian rule in July.