News / Africa

Egypt's Leader Denounces Syrian Regime During Iran Visit

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad welcomes Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi during the opening session of the Non-aligned Movement summit, in Tehran, August 30, 2012.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad welcomes Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi during the opening session of the Non-aligned Movement summit, in Tehran, August 30, 2012.
Edward Yeranian
CAIRO — Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi told Thursday's session of the Non-Aligned Movement summit in Tehran that Egypt supports the struggle of the Syrian people against what he called "an oppressive regime that has lost its legitimacy."

Syria's delegation walked out to protest the remarks.

As the outgoing head of the moment, Morsi sat at the center of the podium, next to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. He is the first Egyptian leader to visit the Iranian capital since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

The seven-hour trip, which received praise in the Egyptian press, was a matter of protocol as much as symbolism since Egypt is due to hand over the movement chairmanship to Iran.

In a stinging rebuke to his Iranian hosts, who strongly support Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, Morsi announced his "complete solidarity with Syrians struggling for freedom and justice."

Morsi did not meet with Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, leading some analysts to conclude that Khamenei was not pleased with the Egyptian comments on Syria.

Syria protests

Syrian state TV pulled the plug on its live broadcast of Morsi's speech, indicating later that his criticism was a "breach of summit protocol." Iraq's Shi'ite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who like Iran supports the Syrian regime, appeared to grimace during the speech.

Middle East analyst James Denselow of King's College London says that Morsi's unexpected criticism of Syria, along with his unusual visit to Tehran, underscores Egypt's return to an independent foreign policy stance after the diplomatic certainty under ex-President Hosni Mubarak.

"The new leader of Egypt is far more unpredictable than the rather more moribund Mubarak dynasty," he said. "So I think Egypt is a country whose foreign policy is no longer a matter of certainty and will far more be driven by new factors, more varied factors and potentially more democratic factors in the long run."

Denselow called Morsi's trip to Tehran "a reflection of Egypt's return to the international stage." The new Egyptian leader is also due to visit Washington in September, following the annual opening session of the United Nations.

Iran and Syria say the Syrian uprising is separate from the Arab Spring and consists largely of foreign-backed "terrorists" acting on behalf of the U.S. and regional countries.

UN council to meet

Later Thursday, the U.N. Security Council will meet to discuss Syria's humanitarian crisis.  The council is deadlocked about taking strong action after Russia and China blocked three Western-backed resolutions that criticized Assad and threatened sanctions.

At a joint news conference ahead of the U.N. meeting, the foreign ministers of France and Britain urged Assad loyalists to defect.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said they should “separate themselves from that criminal clan as soon as possible.” He said France and Britain agree that the Assad family should be held accountable for its crimes before the International Criminal Court at The Hague.

The ministers said they would seek a meeting on funding U.N. humanitarian assistance to Syria in the coming weeks.  

France announced it would give an additional $6 million, part of which would be dedicated to “liberated areas” of Syria.  Britain said it is donating an additional $6 million to humanitarian assistance.

More fighting

As fighting continues in Syria, rebels say they shot down a fighter jet in the northern province of Idlib near the Turkish border. The report could not be independently verified.

An activist group, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, says 20 people were killed, including eight children, when regime forces bombarded a town Thursday in Idlib province.  Government and rebel forces fighting for control over a military airport have engaged in intense clashes in the area that was attacked.

VOA's Margaret Besheer contributed to this report from the United Nations.

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Comments
     
by: david lulasa from: tambua,gimarakwa,hamisi,v
September 01, 2012 6:07 AM
people should stop hypocrisy,iran and syria are being hypocritical...these two have never been lone islands.

by: Anonymous
September 01, 2012 12:51 AM
So lets just "Pretend" that the civillians fighting the Syrian army was terrorists. Why is Bashar Assad not paying the refugees that had to run to turkey border to survive? How much is Assad paying to help the "Innocent people of Syria"? Zero I bet. Secondly what is Russia doing for the displaced people? How much is Russia contributing for the inconvenienced people? (Zero I bet).

Cover up... Kill anyone who doesn't like Assad simple as that.
Their is blood soaked all over Assad and Putins hands and arms. They are the real terrorists in Syria, hands down.

by: Nikos Retsos from: Chicago, USA
August 30, 2012 10:56 PM
Egypt's Morsi wanted to demonstrate in Iran that he won't play "second fiddle" to either Iran or the U.S. - which tried in vain to convince him not to attend the Tehran NAM Conference. In my own opinion, Morsi grabbed the opportunity to go to NAM Conference -by defying the U.S., and once there he proved his independence -from Iran's stance on Syria- by calling for Assad's ouster!

Very impressive, Charles DeGaulle like performance, and, at the same time, a dual warning to both the U.S. and Iran that he won't seat on the lap of either one of them! He intents to be a leader in Middle East, not a follower of any foreign power, no matter their interests or ambitions! Nikos Retsos, retired professor

by: Anonymous
August 30, 2012 4:31 PM
Iranian State Media did not translate Morsi's comments on Syria for the Iranians. The reason is Iran claims Egypt new government is a friend of the Islamic regeim in Iran. So now they don't know they should denounce Morsi or not.

by: Ray from: Los Angeles, CA, USA
August 30, 2012 3:06 PM
Morsi is in back pocket of the WEST. Fake Arab.

by: Godwin from: Nigeria
August 30, 2012 11:25 AM
I believe Morsi's main concern here is to regain Egypt's regional control. How it's going to be a regional power in the face of the Middle East Cacophony is a wait-and-see game. Between living up to his Arab Spring billing and regional control, Morsi has a tough choice to make. Whichever one between his political ambition and his religious leaning weighs stronger in his scale will win the bout. But it does seem Morsi wants to play regional politics; how far that can be sustained is a game of chance.

His being in Iran for the NAM meeting may not mean as much as the sizing of opinion with Ahmadinejad. This is a rare opportunity as his sunni leaning might pose an obstacle to meeting him at some other time, with the widespread isolation of Iran still gaining momentum. And with the feelers on the streets of Tehran, Morsi might be in a better position to make judgments about Iran and its usefulness in the OIC and the Arab world.
In Response

by: Ali baba from: new york
September 01, 2012 6:28 AM
The egyptian politicies is marked by double standard. Iran is supporting muslim brotherhood cause. he went to iran for two reasons .the meeting and tell iranian thank you for support and open your country to criminal whom are wanted for criminal charges during mubark. he open the iranan embassy. he is supporting iran to produce nuclear bomb which can be used in war in middle east

by: ali baba from: new york
August 30, 2012 10:31 AM
Iran is very helpful for muslim brotherhood cause. Iran is not helpful for egyptian interest.Morsy went Iran because Iran give protection for muslim brotherhood thugs who run from Egypt to avoid jail term . He did not like syria because syria is attacking muslim brotherhood in syria.muslim brotherhood will put an end of Egypt

by: Bean from: US
August 30, 2012 9:37 AM
I think it's safe to say when Morsi was speaking. The Iranian officials and especialy thier leader imanutjob were having some seriouse digestive issues, if you know what i mean. I belive that
there leader imanutjob did the same thing to the U.S. at the U.N.
How's it go, (Do to others as they do unto you.) Good for Egypt.

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