Syrian regime should quit, says Egypt president
EGYPTIAN PRESIDENT Mohamed Morsi yesterday called for a “change” of government in Syria and said no more time should be wasted “speaking of reform”.
He urged the Syrian regime to step down as the only means to “stop the bloodshed”. Addressing the opening session of a foreign ministers’ meeting at the Arab League in Cairo, he said Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Turkey would meet shortly to discuss the Syrian conflict which, he insisted, should be resolved on a regional level without intervention from outside powers.
Mr Morsi’s comments echoed statements he made last month at the non-aligned summit in Tehran and at a gathering of the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation in Mecca. His appearance at the league – ignored for years by ousted president Hosni Mubarak – heralded a fresh drive in Cairo to reassert Egypt’s primacy in the organisation.
European foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton urged the divided UN Security Council to give UN-Arab League envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi “the support he needs” to end the bloodshed. She extended the EU’s “full support”.
As rebels claimed they had shot down a MiG jet in the northern Syrian province of Idlib, Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose country hosts rebel fighters, accused Damascus of engaging in “state terrorism” and the international community of “merely watching the slaughter . . . of Muslims” in Syria.
A video posted online by the rebels showed the wreckage of a jet and the body of a pilot, but could not be verified. There were counter-claims over when the aircraft was downed.
While international attention has focused on the flood of refugees fleeing violence in Syria, a field study by local researcher Walid Jadaa estimated losses incurred by the country in terms of homes, personal possessions and savings over the 18 months of turmoil had amounted to $36.5 billion (€29 billion). The study did not estimate losses in oil exports, tourism and trade revenues.
Separately, the New York Times reported that US officials believe Iran has resumed flights of military materiel to Syria through Iraqi airspace after a three-month moratorium.
Iraqi spokesman Ali al-Moussawi declared Tehran had assured Baghdad the flights were carrying only humanitarian aid. A visiting delegation of US politicians warned Washington’s relations with Baghdad could be disrupted and aid cut if flights were shown to be carrying military cargoes.