In a “stranger-than-fiction” turn of events, the Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, fighting to crush a two-year-old uprising that started with peaceful calls for reform, said on Wednesday that Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi 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 Mursi’s departure.
Syrian Information Minister Omran Zoabi was quoted as saying by the state news agency SANA, that the Egyptian “crisis can be overcome if Mohamed Mursi realises that the overwhelming majority of the Egyptian people reject him and are calling on him to go,”
He also called on Egyptians to stand against the “terrorism and threats” of Mursi’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.
Mursi 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 Tayyip Erdogan, another fierce opponent of Assad, by calling on him to halt what it said was violent repression and step aside.
Meanwhile, the people of Egypt aren’t falling for it. The people on the ground in Egypt say they are not the least bit moved by Assad’s new found support for their movement, or today’s coup.
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