Morsi Following Khomeini’s Gameplan

Clare Lopez

Hamas jihadists in Gaza celebrate Morsi's election to the Egyptian presidency. (Photo: Reuters)


Clearly emboldened by U.S. validation of his role in handling Hamas during the Pillar of Defense operation, Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood President Mohammed Morsi wasted no time in issuing a decree granting himself dictatorial powers. On November 22, 2012, Morsi sacked the prosecutor general and replaced him with his own man, thereby brushing aside the last branch of government that stood between him and the status of a “new pharaoh.”

Justifying his move as a defense of the Egyptian revolution itself, Morsi declared to thousands of cheering supporters that “[T]he constitutional declarations, decisions and laws issued by the president are final and not subject to appeal.

Parallels with the Ayatollah Khomeini’s 1979 revolution in Iran are striking enough that it must be wondered whether a tour of Iran’s nuclear facilities was all Morsi was given during his  August 30, 2012 visit to mark the turnover of the Non-Aligned Movement presidency. It would seem that perhaps the Iranians also gave Morsi the blueprint for seizure of state power.

As Egypt scholar Raymond Stock put it, Morsi’s “warp-speed takeover of total state power in Egypt” since his June 24 election victory has astonished many observers who so foolishly greeted the so-called “Arab Spring” with childish delight.

What is looking more by the day like the “Islamic Awakening” the Iranians have always called it actually launched its power takeover phase two years ago with al-Qa’eda’s 2010 call to the Muslim Brotherhood to turn the page as it were “from Mecca to Medina.” Supreme Guide Muhammad Badi’ responded with an October 2010 declaration of jihad against the U.S., Israel and Arab/Muslim regimes unfaithful to sharia, the U.S. nodded favorably—and the putsch was on.

Parliamentary elections (in which the Brotherhood at one point supposedly wasn’t even going to contest more than 30-40% of the seats, much less run a presidential candidate) already had awarded the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party and its Salafist Nour party allies a better than two-thirds dominance of Egypt’s legislature by early 2012.

The constituent assembly that is writing Egypt’s new constitution likewise is under Brotherhood control. The move that really solidified Morsi’s power followed barely weeks after his presidential victory: His  August 11, 2012 coup d’état that replaced Field Marshall Hussein Tantawi and the rest of the Egyptian Supreme Command of the Armed Forces with his own hand-picked Brotherhood officials.

Even for those somehow still ignorant of the Muslim Brotherhood’s widely available jihadist agenda and history, this should have sounded an alarm. And yet, with only a few notable exceptions—among them, Daniel Pipes here, Barry Rubin here—few understood at the time how quickly Egypt was moving towards an Islamic dictatorship.

The U.S. State Department and White House seemed swept along by events—or maybe this was their blueprint, too. After all, the opening punch against the regime of Hosni Mubarak was delivered at the al-Azhar University by President Barak Obama in June 2009, where Obama snubbed Mubarak and insisted that Muslim Brotherhood lawmakers be in attendance.

And so, with the judiciary now down as well, and despite some rear-guard action demonstrations by Egypt’s defeated secularists, Morsi’s sweep is nearly complete. His confidence comes not from the ballot-box so much as from the knowledge that the most powerful organization in Egypt—the Muslim Brotherhood—and the most influential sharia jurist in the Islamic world—Yousef al-Qaradawi—stand behind him.

Just as in 1979, when Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini returned to Tehran after years in exile, senior American diplomatic and intelligence officials as well as the mainstream media have shown themselves completely clueless about the inevitable horror that is the invariable objective of all Islamic jihadis.

As Clifford May, president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracy, recalled in his February, 2011 National Review Online column, “Re: Re: Willful Blindness, Etc.,” (itself echoing the always-prescient Andrew McCarthy), William Sullivan, the U.S. Ambassador in Tehran during the country’s 1979 revolution, compared Khomeini to Ghandi.

Andrew Young, who was President Jimmy Carter’s

The Feb. 12, 1979 cover of Time magazine


UN Ambassador, called Khomeini “some kind of saint.” The Feb. 12, 1979 issue of Time magazine gushed about the democratic aims of Khomeini’s revolution and assured everyone that the Ayatollah surely would return soon to Qom to “resume a life of teaching and prayer.”  

Well, he didn’t. And by now, it should be fairly obvious that neither Morsi nor al-Qaradawi has any intention of retiring anywhere anytime soon either.

Khomeini, who’d promised in his Paris exile that the “constitution of the future regime would be determined by a popularly elected constitutional assembly,” quickly substituted a smaller body called the Assembly of Experts, comprised of Shi’ite clerics loyal to his vision of an Islamic Republic of Iran.

The constitution that emerged in late 1979 proclaimed Iran a revolutionary state dedicated to jihad, subjugated to Islamic Law (sharia) and intent upon export of the revolution abroad. As for himself, Khomeini many years earlier had published his concept of an Islamic state, ruled by a Vali-e Faqih (Jurist Ruler).

Once a feckless U.S. leadership and delirious Iranian masses had delivered both supreme religious power and the political power of a nation state to him, it was too late. Principle 57 of the new Iranian constitution stated that, “The legislative, executive and judicial branches in the Islamic Republic of Iran are under the supervision of the Vali-e-Faqih and the Imam of the Islamic ummah.”

Terror squads quickly intimidated all opposition to Khomeini’s rule throughout the academic community, armed forces, the bazaar and government offices. Strict media censorship closed non-government newspapers and the new security services began their murderous attacks on political gatherings, rallies and street demonstrations.

A Revolutionary Council formed of Khomeini’s closest supporters shortly was to wield ultimate decision-making authority in Iran. Revolutionary courts were established to try and punish officials of the former regime; within months hundreds of military and police officers, SAVAK agents, cabinet ministers, ethnic minorities and Majlis deputies had been executed.




Inaugurated president of Egypt only in June 2012, Morsi is moving even more swiftly than the Ayatollah Khomeini in consolidating power. His order for “new investigations and retrials” and declarations about “cleansing state institutions” and “destroying the infrastructure of the old regime” should send a chill down the spine of anyone who understands the 33-yr. reign of terror that was unleashed with Khomeini’s revolution.

Warming relations between Morsi and the Iranian regime in Tehran, as well as hints about Iranian willingness to support the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood desire for a nuclear weapons capability of its own, must ring an alarm bell somewhere, too.

Belated and feeble U.S. expressions of “dismay” are no more likely to halt this Sunni jihadist juggernaut any more than the Shi’ite one before it. And should they join forces, as already indicated by Iranian arming of Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood’s Palestinian branch, regional destabilization surely will explode.

Only a complete reversal of current U.S. policy of complicity with the joint al-Qa’eda-Muslim Brotherhood jihad agenda and its replacement with a return to support for allies and the voices of genuine democracy can realign American leadership with the principles of our Founding Fathers—and perhaps re-establish its stabilizing influence in a region reeling in its absence.

Clare Lopez is a senior fellow at and a strategic policy and intelligence expert with a focus on the Middle East, national defense and counterterrorism. Lopez served for 20 years as an operations officer with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

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