Egyptian president calls for power transfer in Syria

Egypt’s new president, Mohamed Morsi, slammed the Syrian regime speaking at the summit for the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) in Iran. Morsi is the first Egyptian leader to visit Iran since the 1979 Islamic Revolution during which Iran severed relations with Egypt because of the country’s support for the overthrown Shah and President Anwar Sadat signing ...

BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/GettyImages
BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/GettyImages
BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/GettyImages

Egypt's new president, Mohamed Morsi, slammed the Syrian regime speaking at the summit for the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) in Iran. Morsi is the first Egyptian leader to visit Iran since the 1979 Islamic Revolution during which Iran severed relations with Egypt because of the country's support for the overthrown Shah and President Anwar Sadat signing of a peace treaty with Israel. Morsi condemned the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad saying the movement has an "ethical duty" to support the opposition "against an oppressive regime that has lost its legitimacy." He continued calling for a transfer of power to a democratic system. Morsi's comments sparked a walkout by the Syrian delegation according to Egyptian and Syrian media, however Iranian media sources denied the walk-out. According to al Jazeera's Imran Khan reporting from the summit, "Morsi's comments have caused an unease feeling, especially for the Iranians who are close to Syria." Iran has been a staunch supporter of the Syrian regime in what has become an 18 month conflict, and the United States has accused Iran of training militia to join the Syrian government's forces.

Syria

The Syrian opposition appears to have shot down a government fighter jet in the northwestern Idlib province. Reports are unconfirmed, but an amateur video broadcast on al-Arabiya showed smoke in the sky and pilots parachuting to the ground. Additionally, fighting was reported in the eastern suburbs of Damascus. Syrian opposition member Ausama Monajed responded to President Bashar al-Assad comments made on Wednesday that the Syrian forces just need more time but will win the conflict, saying Assad was just trying to "justify the failure of the security solution." Meanwhile, prominent former member of the Syrian National Council (SNC), Basma Kodmani, who resigned earlier this week, claimed the main opposition group had failed to overcome internal divisions and should be replaced by a new political authority. She said, "My sense was that the SNC was not up to facing the increasing challenges on the ground and was not up to the performance I would have liked it to be." Additionally, in France, the most prominent defector so far from the Syrian regime, former general Manaf Tlass, gave his first in depth interview since leaving Syria. About Assad, he said, "How can anyone think he is protecting his country when his air force and tanks are hitting his own territory?" Human Rights Watch has accused Syrian forces of killing civilians in bread lines in Aleppo. Meanwhile, the first Western journalist to enter the town of Daraya after an alleged massacre by Syrian government troops gave accounts of atrocities committed by the Free Syrian Army and failures in negotiations.

Egypt’s new president, Mohamed Morsi, slammed the Syrian regime speaking at the summit for the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) in Iran. Morsi is the first Egyptian leader to visit Iran since the 1979 Islamic Revolution during which Iran severed relations with Egypt because of the country’s support for the overthrown Shah and President Anwar Sadat signing of a peace treaty with Israel. Morsi condemned the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad saying the movement has an "ethical duty" to support the opposition "against an oppressive regime that has lost its legitimacy." He continued calling for a transfer of power to a democratic system. Morsi’s comments sparked a walkout by the Syrian delegation according to Egyptian and Syrian media, however Iranian media sources denied the walk-out. According to al Jazeera’s Imran Khan reporting from the summit, "Morsi’s comments have caused an unease feeling, especially for the Iranians who are close to Syria." Iran has been a staunch supporter of the Syrian regime in what has become an 18 month conflict, and the United States has accused Iran of training militia to join the Syrian government’s forces.

Syria

The Syrian opposition appears to have shot down a government fighter jet in the northwestern Idlib province. Reports are unconfirmed, but an amateur video broadcast on al-Arabiya showed smoke in the sky and pilots parachuting to the ground. Additionally, fighting was reported in the eastern suburbs of Damascus. Syrian opposition member Ausama Monajed responded to President Bashar al-Assad comments made on Wednesday that the Syrian forces just need more time but will win the conflict, saying Assad was just trying to "justify the failure of the security solution." Meanwhile, prominent former member of the Syrian National Council (SNC), Basma Kodmani, who resigned earlier this week, claimed the main opposition group had failed to overcome internal divisions and should be replaced by a new political authority. She said, "My sense was that the SNC was not up to facing the increasing challenges on the ground and was not up to the performance I would have liked it to be." Additionally, in France, the most prominent defector so far from the Syrian regime, former general Manaf Tlass, gave his first in depth interview since leaving Syria. About Assad, he said, "How can anyone think he is protecting his country when his air force and tanks are hitting his own territory?" Human Rights Watch has accused Syrian forces of killing civilians in bread lines in Aleppo. Meanwhile, the first Western journalist to enter the town of Daraya after an alleged massacre by Syrian government troops gave accounts of atrocities committed by the Free Syrian Army and failures in negotiations.

Headlines  

  • Egyptian authorities say they will detain former Egyptian Prime Minister and candidate in recent presidential elections, Ahmed Shahfiq, on charges of corruption if he returns to Cairo. 
  • Iraq’s military took possession of nine tanks from the United States, in the last order of the 140 delivered over the past two years. 

Arguments & Analysis

Non-aligned movement: a two-edged summit in Tehran’ (The Guardian)

"Iran is quickly losing support it toiled at such cost to confect among the Arab people. A prolonged conflict in Syria makes it more vulnerable to an attack by Israel, and isolates its ally Hezbollah in Lebanon. For south-eastern Turkey, Syria spells trouble: more refugees, more attacks from Kurdish militants, more stirring of the Alawite minority in Turkey and more al-Qaida. And Afghanistan has taught a state like Saudi Arabia that what goes out generally comes back. The jihadis they export return one day, battle-hardened, to challenge the status quo at home. Each country must be thinking hard about a post-Assad solution.

Morsi is both a supporter of the right of the Syrian people to resist a brutal tyranny, and an opponent of foreign intervention. Unlike Turkey, Iran or Saudi Arabia, Egypt is not involved in the fighting. As all the alternatives are worse, a regional conference is not a bad place to start building a diplomatic solution."

Syria’s agony underscores the weakening of Western dominance’ (Jaswant Singh, The Daily Star)

"Is there a solution to this grim impasse? Certainly, one will not be found in more United Nations resolutions, which is why the American president, Barack Obama, is now believed to favor a "managed transition" in Syria that would not fatally erode the existing instruments of the Syrian state.

As the author and public intellectual Michael Ignatieff has wisely observed, Syria’s crisis has revealed that this is "the moment in which the West should see that the world has truly broken into two. A loose alliance of struggling capitalist democracies" is faced by Russia and China. Western countries’ national interests will no longer determine the moral and political impulses of today’s global community. Indeed, whatever the outcome, Syria’s agony has underscored a further irreversible weakening of the West’s dominant global role."

How Barak keeps bloating the defense budget’ (Reuven Pedatzur, Haaretz)

"The defense budget is meant, after all, to give the Israel Defense Forces the means to deal with the threats the state is facing. Therefore the size of the budget is derived from the extent of these threats and the means with which the IDF must equip itself. This is a simple equation: The more the threats grow, the more the budget can be expected to grow. Thus it is clear how the members of the Tishler committee decided to recommend increasing the budget. The basis for their estimates about the required budget was the picture of the threats presented them by the IDF – which the committee members adopted without objection – and apparently they were also somewhat alarmed.

The success of the IDF in this case was ensured. Not one committee member was an expert on defense, intelligence or strategic affairs, and therefore their only choice was to accept the IDF’s threat assessment and equipment estimate at face value. Not one of them was able to recommend, for example, that in an era of economic distress, the IDF should invest much less in dealing with the threats less likely to materialize, and in this way save billions of shekels."

By Mary Casey

<p>Mary Casey-Baker is the editor of Foreign Policy’s Middle East Daily Brief, as well as the assistant director of public affairs at the Project on Middle East Political Science and assistant editor of The Monkey Cage blog for the Washington Post. </p> Twitter: @casey_mary

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