Cairo denies launching new Syria initiative

Ahram Online, Tuesday 21 Oct 2014

Egyptian diplomats deny meetings have taken place to discuss a new plan to solve the Syria crisis

Bashar Assad
n this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Syrian President Bashar Assad (Photo: AP)

High level diplomatic sources on Tuesday denied reports that Cairo has launched a new initiative to resolve the crisis in Syria.

The reports were published by several pan-Arab and international media outlets.

Diplomatic sources expressed their surprise at the news, and described it as "illusory" and untrustworthy. 

The reports said several meetings had taken place at the foreign ministry in Cairo. However the sources denied that any such meetings had taken place.

The reports mentioned that the initiative aimed at reaching a political formula to solve the Syrian crisis and had ruled out a military solution, asserting that this would lead to the division of Syria and serve the interests of Islamist groups such as Islamic State (IS).

Cairo's initiative, according to the reports, implies dealing with several parties. However it did not imply that Egyptian-Syrian diplomatic relations would be re-established.

Egypt has highlighted that it does not intend to resume relations with the Assad regime, and that its role is only a mediator.

Egypt further asserted that Assad's ouster is crucial to solving the conflict, according to the reports. However it must be done politically and peacefully, similar to the Yemeni model.

The conflict in Syria out broke when protesters demanded the ouster of Bashar Al-Assad in 2011. Since then Egypt has been ruling out western intervention in the conflict.

The Egyptian embassy in Syria is operating despite the severing of diplomatic ties by president Mohamed Morsi in June 2013.

Syrian relations with Arab nations progressively worsened as the violence in the country spiralled out of control.

On Monday Egypt's Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab stated that Egypt has no plans to provide the United States with direct military assistance in its war against IS in Iraq and Syria even though an American aerial bombardment may not be enough to defeat the group.

But Mahlab left open the possibility of military action if Cairo's Gulf Arab allies are threatened by the Al-Qaeda offshoot.

After the US led strikes against IS in Syria took place in September, fierce fighting shook the Syrian border town of Kobane.

The month-long battle for Kobane has ebbed and flowed. A week ago, Kurds warned the town would fall imminently and the US-led coalition stepped up air strikes against IS, which wants to take Kobane to consolidate its position in northern Syria.

As Reuters reported, the coalition has been bombing IS targets in Iraq since August and extended the campaign to Syria in September after IS, a group that espouses a rigid interpretation of Islam and initially focused on fighting Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad's forces, made huge territorial gains.

Raids on IS around Kobane have been stepped up, with the fate of the town seen as an important test for US President Barack Obama's campaign against the group.

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