x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Syrian government says Morsi 'should realise Egyptians reject him' and step aside

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

BEIRUT // The Syrian government, fighting to crush a two-year-old uprising against President Bashar Al Assad that started with peaceful calls for reform, said yesterday Egyptian President Mohammed 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 Mr Morsi's departure.

"(Egypt's) crisis can be overcome if Mohammed Morsi realises 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 Mr 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.

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

A month ago, Syria responded to a wave of protests against Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, another fierce opponent of Mr Assad, by calling on him to halt what it said was violent repression and step aside.