Syrian ambassador to Egypt leaves Cairo

Rumors suggest Syria recalling envoy over Cairo's handling of Hamas-Fatah conflict [The Media Line].

Mubarak 248 88 (photo credit: AP [file])
Mubarak 248 88
(photo credit: AP [file])
The Syrian ambassador to Egypt has left Cairo in what some observers note is an indication of tension in Syrian-Egyptian relations. Ambassador Yousuf Ahmad left for Damascus on Wednesday with his wife and five large suitcases, according to a UPI report. The ambassador is ostensibly taking time off for the upcoming Id al-Adha Muslim festival, but rumors suggest Syria is in fact recalling its ambassador from Cairo over tension between the two countries. Syria has expressed displeasure with Egypt over Cairo's handling of the internal Palestinian conflict, alleging that Egypt, which has been mediating between Fatah and Hamas, has not taken a balanced approach in the dispute. Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem recently said that any party mediating between the various Palestinian sides should be impartial. He was implying that Egypt was siding with Fatah and conspiring against Hamas. During a conference of Arab foreign ministers last month, Muallem reportedly enraged the Palestinian delegation when he called for the participation of Hamas representatives in future Arab League meetings. Arab critics accuse Syria, which hosts several key Hamas leaders-in-exile, of siding with Hamas in the conflict. Ahmad denied that he was being recalled from Cairo and insisted his departure for Syria was a routine holiday. Cairo has said any allegations of Egyptian bias in the conflict are untrue, and insists it is taking an even-handed approach to the dispute. However, Mustafa al-Fiqi, the head of Egypt's parliamentary Foreign Relations Committee, lashed out at Hamas on Wednesday and accused it of obstructing the Palestinian talks. Egypt will not tolerate the establishment of an Islamic state in the Gaza Strip, Fiqi said. The Egyptian daily Al-Gumhouriyya, which toes the government line, carried a scathing criticism of Muallem and the Syrian regime on November 28. "The whole world knows [Syrians] are the ones who are helping Hamas on Fatah's account," the editorial said. "You and Iran are standing behind Hamas, while you claim to support the Palestinian cause" the paper wrote, in a reference to the Syrian foreign minister. In a follow-up item, the editor accused Syria of foiling the Palestinian dialogue. Cairo has been trying to defuse the tension by saying the comments published in Al-Gumhouriyya were the individual thoughts of the editor and did not reflect the official Egyptian position.