Egyptian Foreign Ministry and Al-Azhar Oppose Syria Attack
By: Iman Ibrahim
Published Monday, September 2, 2013
Cairo – There is no doubt that the current administration in Egypt and the political figures that support it are against a US-led military strike on Syria. This is only further reinforced by the fact that the current regime in Syria shares the Egyptian administration’s hostility to the Muslim Brotherhood, considered a Western-backed terrorist group by both sides.
Al-Azhar echoed this position on Sunday, September 1, proclaiming that a strike on Syria would be “an assault on the Arab and Islamic nation.” In a statement, al-Azhar declared its “strong rejection and condemnation of the US president’s decision to direct a military strike against Syria, which would be an assault and a threat to the Arab and Islamic nation, while also putting international peace and security at risk.”
Al-Azhar also stressed “the right of the Syrian people to self-determination and choosing their leaders in total freedom and transparency,” and denounced at the same time “the use of chemical weapons, no matter by which party.”
Speaking to Al-Akhbar, Egyptian ambassador and former assistant foreign minister, Hussein Haridi, said that US threats against Syria were groundless and only reflected Western plans and greed in the Arab countries.
“The talk about the Syrian crisis approaching the crater of a volcano has nothing to do with the regime of Bashar al-Assad or the mercenary groups in the Free Syrian Army, but it has a toll on a humanitarian crisis affecting millions of Syrians within their country’s borders and beyond. This requires further deliberation, because what we are possibly dealing with is the emergence of a new disaster that would devour innocents,” he said.
Regarding the severing of Egyptian-Syrian diplomatic relations, Haridi said, “Egyptian action on Syria has nothing to do with the move to sever relations made by impeached president Mohamed Mursi.” He noted the need to restore Egypt’s longstanding diplomatic role by sending Egyptian diplomatic delegations to Syria and exchanging ambassadors as soon as possible. Haridi also called for Egypt to withdraw from the “Friends of Syria Group,” which he said was a Turkish-French invention developed under former French president Nicolas Sarkozy to systematically destroy Syria and its people.
Haridi also told Al-Akhbar that “Egypt will stand by Syria whether the West likes it or not. We will not abandon our strategic role in the region, but the movements of the two countries will be fraught with risks and will be extremely sensitive.” He then denied that the recent reshuffle in the Egyptian diplomatic corps was to blame for the delay in showing solidarity with Syria, but acknowledged that the Muslim Brotherhood was planning to appoint party members to diplomatic posts in certain countries.
Haridi said, “The posts that Mursi deliberately left empty included the Egyptian ambassadorship in Ankara, because the Muslim Brotherhood was planning to nominate a member of the group to represent it there.”
The strongly worded statement of the Egyptian Foreign Ministry vehemently opposed a military strike against Syria. But according to Hani al-Aasar, security affairs expert at al-Ahram Strategic Center, this was the only statement of its kind to be issued by an Arab country.
“At a time when the US and its Western allies are considering a military strike against this country on the back of the alleged chemical attack the regime is accused of perpetrating, we see that Arab silence has reigned supreme on the diplomatic and political arenas,” Aasar told Al-Akhbar.
Aasar then stressed that Egypt’s stance was clear and unequivocal, and that it would not take part in any military strike. Egypt, he said, strongly opposes all escalatory steps being made by the US.
It is worth noting that Ambassador Nabil Fahmy, in the Foreign Ministry’s statement, made it clear that Egypt strongly believes “the use of force in international relations is unacceptable except in the case of self defense or under Chapter VII of the UN Charter.”
Fahmy also called on the UN Security Council to exert all efforts to investigate the incidents and take necessary measures on what he called a heinous crime, stressing at the same time the need to find a political solution to the conflict in Syria.
This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.