Abbas: Palestinians mustn't interfere in Egypt affairs

Syria urges Morsi to step down; Gulf Arab rulers stay mum.

July 3, 2013 20:54
2 minute read.
Egypt's President Mohamed Morsi (R) and PA President Mahmoud Abbas  in Cairo May 16, 2013

Abbas and Morsi 370. (photo credit: REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh)

As demonstrations raged in Egypt Wednesday against the backdrop of a looming military coup threatening to replace President Mohamed Morsi, Palestinian Authority President Mahmouh Abbas urged Palestinians to remain neutral in the domestic affairs of Arab countries, Bethlehem-based news agency Ma'an reported.

Abbas called to reject such interference as he voiced Palestinian support for the country of Egypt along with its people, according to Ma'an.

The Syrian government, fighting to crush a two-year-old uprising against President Bashar Assad that started with peaceful calls for reform, said on Wednesday Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi should step down for the sake of his country.

Relishing the possible downfall of one of Assad's most vocal critics, Syrian television carried live coverage of the huge street demonstrations in Egypt demanding Morsi's departure.

"(Egypt's) crisis can be overcome if Mohamed Morsi realizes that the overwhelming majority of the Egyptian people reject him and are calling on him to go," Information Minister Omran Zoabi was quoted as saying by the state news agency SANA.

He also called on Egyptians to stand against the "terrorism and threats" of Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood supporters.

The Syrian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood is one of the most powerful factions behind the mostly Sunni Muslim uprising against Assad, who belongs to the Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shi'ite Islam, and is being helped by Lebanon's Shi'ite Hezbollah militia.

Morsi has expressed support for foreign intervention against Assad and attended a rally two weeks ago calling for holy war in Syria.

Gulf Arab rulers were resisting the temptation to gloat in public about the political woes of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, a group most of them mistrust, for fear of deepening unrest in a country that remains a potential ally in their standoff with Iran.

Officials and analysts said official Gulf Arab silence reflected a longstanding belief among the mainly small, US-allied Sunni Muslim-ruled oil producers that their security is closely linked to that of Egypt, the most populous country in the Arab World, which is also Sunni.

For most of the past 30 years Egypt has been a strategic ally for Gulf Arab states worried about being dominated by the much bigger, Shi'ite Muslim Islamic Republic across the Gulf.

Now, with the stakes so high and Egypt's situation so volatile, the official thinking seems to be that public meddling might only make things worse, analysts say.

Expressions of concern were couched in term of seeking the common good and favoring dialogue.

"To have a peaceful and stable Egypt is very important for Saudi and the rest of the Arab world," said Abdullah al-Askar, foreign affairs committee chairman at Saudi Arabia's Shura Council, a body appointed by King Abdullah to advise on policy.

Stressing he was speaking in his personal capacity, Askar said that given the anti-government protests' size, President Mohamed Morsi should be more open to the opposition's complaints.

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