Egypt’s stance on the Syrian crisis was far closer to that of Saudi Arabia during Morsi’s tenure, as the Syrian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood sided against embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. In his speech at the August 2012 summit of the Non-Aligned Movement in Tehran, Morsi, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, angered his Iranian hosts with criticism of the Syrian government.
He also sided with the United Arab Emirates against Iran over three disputed islands in the Persian Gulf. A high-ranking Iranian diplomat who spoke on condition of anonymity previously told Al-Monitor, “Mr. Morsi had said that he would only come to Tehran for a few hours, that he would not spend the night here and that he will not meet with the supreme leader.”
In contrast, ever since Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (pictured) seized power in July 2013, Egypt has gradually distanced itself from its previous stance on Syria. At the same time, Sisi has tried to approach Russia, a move that has been welcomed warmly by Moscow, with the Kremlin currently negotiating the potential use of military bases in Egypt.
Things may have taken a further turn on Sept. 23, when Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif met with his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly summit in New York. The Syrian crisis seemed to be the main topic of the discussions between the Iranian and Egyptian diplomats.