Morsi's Syria stance influenced by US: Egyptian opposition

Ahram Online, Sunday 16 Jun 2013

As Morsi faces accusations of manipulating Syria crisis for personal gain, supporters refute claims that president acting in US interests

Mohamed Morsi
Egypt's President Mohamed Morsi delivers a speech at a Syria solidarity conference organised by the Muslim Brotherhood, in Cairo, in this handout picture taken June 15, 2013 (Photo; Reuters)

Egypt's April 6 Movement (the Democratic Front) issued a statement Saturday accusing President Mohamed Morsi of capitalising on Syrian blood and promoting a US agenda with his decision to cut ties with Bashar Al-Assad’s Syria.

"We are surprised about Morsi’s condemnation of foreign intervention in Syria, being that he also demands a no-fly zone over Syria, which would allow for foreign intervention," read the statement, referring to the president’s comments Saturday during a conference organised by Islamists in support of the Syrian uprising.

The implementation of no-fly zone would require the destruction of Syria's Russian-built air defences.

"Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood have no shame in trading on anything, even the blood of martyrs in Syria, in order to win the sympathy of Egyptians," added the statement, pointing out that Morsi’s call to support the opposition coincides with Washington's decision on Thursday to supply Syria's rebels with weapons.

Morsi did not mention plans to arm the Syrian opposition, however he stressed that "Egypt and its army will support Syrians until their rights are granted and a new elected leadership is chosen."

In their statement, the April 6 Movement also denounced what they perceived as a threatening tone in Morsi's speech.

"Misleading the people with false threats of the former regime's return is nothing but the talk of a fascist regime," read the statement.

Morsi warned on Saturday about the "remnants of the former regime who want to drag the country to chaos."

In a related statement, the April 6 Movement mocked the pro-Syria conference that Morsi attended, saying that the Islamist organisers of the event required Washington's approval.

“The decision to open the doors of Jihad is coming from Washington sponsored by … Salafist Sheikhs,” read the statement, which went on to denounce Sheikh Mohamed Abdel-Maqsoud for calling those who plan to take part in the 30 June rallies "infidels."

For its part, the anti-Morsi 'Rebel' campaign described Morsi's speech as mere "babbling," intended to assert power and divert the public’s attention in anticipation of opposition protests.

"Morsi’s speech reveals that the Syria file has been handed over from Qatar to Saudi Arabia and Egypt and that Morsi is answering America’s instructions," added the statement.

In his speech to thousands of Islamist sympathisers, President Morsi referred to Egypt's "counter-revolutionary" forces as "deluded" and "allies of the former regime."

The 'Rebel' movement has accused the Brotherhood of hypocrisy, stating "You are the deluded ones and you are the biggest part of the old regime," on its official Facebook page Saturday.

The group went on to attack the Islamist group for "folding to the SCAF's interests" during the period of military rule following the 2011 uprising, comparing this to the compromises made with the Mubarak regime in 2005 in order to win parliament seats.

The 'Rebel' campaign is the main force behind calls for demonstrations on 30 June, which will demand early presidential elections. The anticipated protests are believed to have sparked concerns within the ruling Islamist party over imminent turmoil.

Meanwhile, leader of the Salafist Al-Asala party Ehab Shiha issued a statement to refute claims that Morsi is acting under US influence regarding Syria, suggesting instead that an Islamic coalition had called on the president to declare his position on the Syrian regime.  

Although the US announced on Thursday that it would arm Syrian rebels following revelations that Assad used chemical weapons against the opposition fighters, Shiha stressed that Morsi had made up his mind earlier in June.

"The Islamic coalition met with President Mohamed Morsi early June to ascertain his opinion about the Syrian conflict ... the president declared that he wanted to sever ties with Al-Assad's regime," Shiha clarified.

The Free Syrian Army has announced its support of Egypt's decision to cut diplomatic ties with Syria, calling on both Libya and Tunisia to adopt Egypt's "historic and courageous" position and to organize gatherings and conferences to expressing official and popular support for the Syrian people.

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