On the surface, the public-relations campaign was straightforward. Ever since the fall of Hosni Mubarak in February 2011, regime figures have trumpeted that the Egyptian uprising was following the model of the 1979 Islamic Revolution. So when the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohamed Morsi was finally confirmed as Egyptian President on Sunday, it was natural that he and the Brotherhood should be welcomed as Tehran's partner..
On Monday morning, the Iranian military took the lead on the effort. Commanders proclaimed that Iranian strength would support the emerging Egypt, an example of how US and Israeli efforts to control the region had failed. Fars, linked to the Revolutionary Guards, headlined that it had an interview with Morsi, in which the President-elect had called for better relations with the Islamic Republic as part of a new "strategic balance".
But then something very un-natural happened. The State news agency IRNA declared that the Morsi interview was a fake. Fars, none too happy with the allegation, responded by putting even more extracts on its Persian and English sites and by posting a claimed audio of the exchange with Morsi. It hit back at IRNA as "anti-revolutionary" for trying to denounce the interview and its "key and valuable points".
So how did the regime's PR effort dissolve into in-fighting? IRNA offered a big clue at the top of its homepage. Throughout the day, it proclaimed that President Ahmadinejad had sent a message of congratulations to Morsi. In contrast, there was no mention on the homepage of the military's statements.
Put bluntly, Egypt had become a symbol not of Cairo and Tehran walking in hand and hand but another front for conflict between an Iranian President and a military leadership who do not like many in the Ahmadinejad camp. Fars helped attach the label "deviant current" on the President's advisors; IRNA has responded by listing Fars' "continued gaffes" leading to “security misunderstandings”.
It is one matter, however, to point out Fars' frequent mis-steps in its reporting --- only last week, the site turned a claim from a Syrian blogger into a headline, false story that Russia, China, and Iran were joining Damascus in military exercises with 90,000 personnel and thousands of tanks and planes. It is another to challenge the Revolutionary Guards' newspaper over a key plank in the Islamic Republic's regional policy.
Which begs a question. That key plank was laid down by the Supreme Leader in February 2011, when he put Egypt at the centre of the "Islamic Awakening" inspired by Tehran.
So, given this turn from Awakening into Internal Bickering, what does Ayatollah Khamenei say now?