Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi announced Saturday the end of diplomatic ties with the Syrian regime led by Bashar Al-Asaad, shortly after stating that "the Egyptian people and army are supporting the Syrian uprising."
Morsi's announcement, like several other statements he released during an Islamist-organised conference in "support of the Syrian uprising" at the Cairo's fully-packed 20,000-seat indoor Stadium, met zealous applause and chants from the supporting attendees.
"We have decided to close down the Syrian embassy in Cairo," said Morsi, making Egypt the third Arab country to end ties with the war-torn country after Libya and Tunisia. "The Egyptian envoy in Damascus will also be withdrawn."
"The people of Egypt and its army will not leave Syrians until their rights are granted and a new elected leadership is chosen," adding that he requested an emergency meeting by the Arab League to discuss possible means of supporting Syria.
Although he urged world powers to enforce a no-fly zone over Syria (like that the NATO imposed on Libya during the uprising against Muammar Gaddafi), Morsi stressed his refusal of foreign intervention in Syria's ongoing civil war, especially Lebanese Shiite militant group Hezbollah. "Hezbollah must leave Syria; there is no place for Hezbollah in Syria," he said. The suggestion for a no-fly zone was considered by the White House on Friday. The implementation of no-fly zone will requite the destruction of Syria's Russian-built air defenses.
"The Egyptian people have stood by the Lebanese people and Hezbollah against the [Israeli] attack in 2006, and today we stand against Hezbollah for Syria," he added, referring to the Lebanese fighters who officially declared last May their involvement in the fighting in Syria against "Islamic extremists who pose danger to Lebanon," in reference to anti-Al-Assad rebels.
Syrian President Al-Assad and many members of his regime are Alawites, an offshoot of Shia Islam. The majority of the opposition is Sunni.
Preceding Morsi's words, Sunni Islamic preachers such as Sheikh Mohamed Hassan and Sheikh Mohamed Abdel-Maqsoud, underlined the "necessity of declaring Jihad in Syria, in which Syrians and any capable Muslims shall take part in." They called on Morsi not to allow Shiites into Egypt, describing them as "unclean."
Abdel-Maqsoud, deputy head of the Islamic Legitimate body of Rights and Reformation, also denounced the anti-Morsi protests called for by the opposition on 30 June.
'Former regime remnants'
Morsi, for his part, warned that "remnants of the former regime want to drag the country to chaos," in reference to anticipated violence by the end of the month.
"There is no place for the troublemakers [who threaten] the nation's security and stability. We shall decisively stop them," He said, stressing that he does not mean the opposition.
The 'Rebel' campaign, a signature drive launched in May with the intention of "withdrawing confidence" from Morsi by collecting 15 million citizens' endorsements, has called for mass protests on 30 June to demand Morsi's ouster.
Citing Egypt's increasingly dire economic situation, the 'Rebel' campaign, which said it had gathered seven million signatures, has called for nationwide demonstration on 30 June to coincide with the end of Morsi's first year as president.
Most Egyptian opposition parties and groups have endorsed the planned protests, including the main opposition umbrella group, the National Salvation Front, which is led by former presidential hopefuls Mohamed ElBaradei, Hamdeen Sabbahi and Amr Moussa.
It is widely believed by Islamists that former regime figures and supporters will participate in the protests and turn them violent.
For his side, Morsi blamed the opposition for repeatedly turning down invitations to parttake in national dialogues where "crucial matters" were discussed. "We invited them to discuss Jerusalem, the Nile [saga with Ethiopia], and Syria. Where was the opposition?" he said.
The conference was organised by several influential Salafist preachers, The Salafist Asala Party, The guidance Bureau of the Muslim Brotherhood (from which Morsi hails), The ultra-conservative Al-Jamaa Al-Islamiya movement, and the Islamic Legitmate body of Right and Reformation.
Among the prominent figures present were the Presidential aide for political affairs Pakinam El-Sharqawi, the presidential aide for foreign affairs Essam El-Haddad, presidential advisor and head of Salafist Al-Watan Party Emad Abdel-Ghafour.