Ex-presidential candidate Sabbahi backs Morsi on Syria

Ahram Online, Friday 31 Aug 2012

Hamdeen Sabbahi praises president's speech at Tehran summit saying it could mark a 'transformation' in Egyptian foreign policy

Nasserist Hamdeen Sabahi (Photo: Reuters)

Former presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabbahi has praised President Mohamed Morsi's speech at the Non-Aligned Movement summit in Tehran this week, saying it marks a "transformation" in Egyptian foreign policy.

On Thursday, the Egyptian president addressed members of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) in the Iranian capital and expressed solidarity with the Syrian revolution against the regime of Bashar Al-Assad, which he said had "lost its legitimacy."
Speaking in Port Said at a Thursday meeting of the Popular Current, his newly-established political coalition, Sabbahi declared that he shared many of Morsi's sentiments although he did not agree with everything the Muslim Brotherhood figure said.
If Morsi's words translate into policy, Sabbahi said, there would be "a transformation in foreign policy in Egypt that would restore its status regionally and globally."
Morsi's visit to Iran was the first by an Egyptian president after almost 30 years of tense relations. It followed a presidential visit to China which has left many anticipating a serious change in Egypt's foreign policy.
The Egyptian president told the Tehran conference that bloodshed in Syria would only end if there were "effective interference" from outside and that the country needed a peaceful transition to democracy. The Syrian delegation to the summit walked out during his speech.
Sabbahi condemned "the crimes" committed by Syrian forces, which he said were a sign of the regime's waning mandate, but warned of the prospect of international intervention.
"The situation is very complicated in Syria, the battle is now between international forces and foreign intelligence, each concerned with their own interest," said Sabbahi, who placed third in Egypt's May presidential elections.
He said that Egypt should choose no side but that of the Syrian people and what he called their legitimate demand of democracy.
The England-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said this week that more than 23,000 people had been killed since the Syrian uprising began in March 2011. 
The director of the Tishreen military hospital in Damascus reported that 8,000 Syrian soldiers and members of the security forces have been killed over the same period.
On domestic matters, Sabbahi also backed President Morsi's decision last month to abolish the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces' (SCAF) constitutional declaration, a military move, Sabbahi said he had "opposed since day one."
On 12 August, Mursi retired the top two figures of the SCAF and nullified a mid-June constitutional declaration issued by the military council that stripped the presidency of many of its powers.
"Morsi is now free of the grip of SCAF," said Sabbahi.
"We urge him to take serious steps to comfort Egyptians, [showing them] that the Muslim Brotherhood will not nterfere in the ruling of Egypt and that he will be a president for all."
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