News / Middle East

    Morsi Cuts Egypt's Syria Ties, Backs No-fly Zone

    In this handout picture Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi gives a speech to thousands of Islamists and Syrian opposition supporters during  the "support for Syria" rally at Cairo stadium, June 15, 2013 in Cairo, Egypt. (Credit: Ho/Egyptian Presidency)
    In this handout picture Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi gives a speech to thousands of Islamists and Syrian opposition supporters during the "support for Syria" rally at Cairo stadium, June 15, 2013 in Cairo, Egypt. (Credit: Ho/Egyptian Presidency)
    Reuters
    Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi said he had cut all diplomatic ties with Damascus on Saturday and backed a no-fly zone over Syria, pitching the most populous Arab state more firmly against President Bashar al-Assad.

    Addressing a rally called by Sunni Muslim clerics in Cairo, the Sunni Islamist head of state also warned Assad's ally, the Iranian-backed Lebanese Shi'ite militia Hezbollah, to pull back from fighting in Syria.

    "Hezbollah must leave Syria. These are serious words," said Morsi, whose country hosted a conference of Sunni clerics this week who issued a call for holy war against Damascus. "There is no space or place for Hezbollah in Syria."

    The rally underscored the region's deepening sectarian rift. A cleric who spoke before Morsi described Shi'ites as heretics, infidels, oppressors and polytheists.

    It was also a show of support for Morsi as his opponents mobilize for protests to demand early presidential elections.

    Morsi waved Syrian and Egyptian flags as he entered the auditorium packed with 20,000 supporters. The crowd chanted: "From the free revolutionaries of Egypt: We will stamp on you, Bashar!"

    Morsi, a Muslim Brotherhood politician, steered clear of direct references to Shi'ites and Iran but in a partial allusion to Tehran, he accused states in the region and beyond of feeding "a campaign of extermination and planned ethnic cleansing" in Syria.

    "We decided today to entirely break off relations with Syria and with the current Syrian regime," he said. He also urged world powers not to hesitate to enforce a no-fly zone over Syria.

    Western diplomats said on Friday that Washington was considering a limited no-fly zone over parts of Syria, but the White House said later that the United States had no national interest in pursuing that option.

    Russia, an ally of Assad and fierce opponent of outside military intervention in Syria, said any attempt to impose a no-fly zone using F-16 fighter jets and Patriots based in Jordan would be illegal.

    Morsi said he was organizing an urgent summit of Arab and other Islamic states to discuss the situation in Syria, where the United States has in recent days decided to take steps to arm the rebels.

    Egypt's U.S.-funded and -trained army is among the most powerful in the Middle East. There has been no suggestion, however, that Egypt, a country steeped in poverty, should get involved in the fighting in Syria.

    Warns Against Violence

    Morsi said: "The Egyptian people supports the struggle of the Syrian people, materially and morally, and Egypt, its nation, leadership ... and army, will not abandon the Syrian people until it achieves its rights and dignity."

    The Brotherhood has joined calls this week from Sunni Muslim religious organizations for jihad against Assad and his Shi'ite allies.

    Egypt has not taken an active role in arming the Syrian rebels, but an aide to Morsi said this week that Cairo would not stand in the way of Egyptians who wanted to fight in Syria.

    It marked Morsi's second combative foreign policy speech in less than a week. On Monday, he said Egypt would keep "all options open" for dealing with a dispute with Ethiopia over a giant dam it is building on the Nile, though he said Cairo did not want war and stressed it would work diplomatically.

    Morsi's liberal and leftist opponents are mobilizing for mass protests on June 30, the anniversary of Morsi coming to office, fuelling fears of possible further violence.

    Morsi told his Islamist supporters at the rally that they must not be dragged into confrontations and that he would not tolerate any violence.

    You May Like

    Top US General: Turkish Media Report ‘Absurd'

    General Dunford rejects ‘irresponsible' claims of coup involvement by former four-star Army General Campbell, who led NATO forces in Afghanistan before retiring earlier this year

    Video Saving Ethiopian Children Thought to Be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at efforts of one African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children

    Protests Over Western Troops Threaten Libyan 'Unity' Government

    Fears mount that Islamist foes of ‘unity' government plan to declare a revolutionaries' council in Tripoli

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora