Senior members of Assad regime in Syria switch sides

Mousa declares Egypt will keep peace with Israel

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Posted on: 
17 Jan 2012
Senior members of Assad regime in Syria switch sides

The regime of Syrian president Bashar Assad took a big hit late Sunday when Imad Ghalioun, a parliamentarian who represents the central city of Homs, scene of much of the violence in Syria over the last ten months, told Al Arabiya that he was abandoning Assad and adding his weight to the growing rebellion against the regime. “The Syrian people are living their worst period,” Ghalioun said. “The people of Homs are under siege and the city is disaster-stricken. There is no electricity, piles of garbage fill the streets... The sounds of shelling all night terrify children.” He added that many of his colleagues in the parliament feel the same way but are fearful of speaking out. Elsewhere, several more soldiers from Assad’s security forces defected to the opposition on Monday, including a general. Another general was reportedly assassinated on Monday.

Meanwhile, a proposal by Qatar to send Arab troops to Syria to bring the situation under control and end the violence was quietly quashed by Arab League diplomats on Monday, who pointed out that Egypt is the only Arab country which has sufficient numbers of soldiers and the capacity to get them to Syria, but that country has its hands full at home. Elsewhere, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon reiterated a call for Assad to “stop killing, and listen to his people.”

On Israel’s southern border, the presidential election in Egypt picked up pace on Monday, with leading contender Amr Mousa telling reporters he would keep the peace with Israel but would make “adjustments” to the 1979 peace agreement.

“With regards to the Arab-Israeli conflict and the Palestinian cause, Egypt must and will continue to be part of the Arab Initiative [for peace]. Egypt’s policy on the Arab-Israeli conflict, and its resolution, must be based on the Arab Initiative,” he said. “As for Egyptian-Israeli relations, the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty is in place, and I do not think there are any circumstances that will lead to its cancellation. I do not think this will happen, and I do not think it would be wise for this treaty to be canceled. The treaty will continue so long as each party respects it. As for the security situation in the Sinai Peninsula and the presence of Egyptian forces there, I believe that the security articles of the treaty should be reviewed.”

On gas sales to Israel, Moussa rhetorically asked “Firstly, whether we will sell natural gas to Israel or not, and secondly, how such sales will take place. There is a lot of corruption in the gas deals that occurred in the past. This corruption must be immediately addressed. As for the issue of whether we will continue such sales, the political apparatus must look into this and consider how it will manage Egypt’s gas and oil policies, environmental policies, etc.”

 “We, as Egyptians, know that our feelings can be influenced by religion,” Moussa said. “Therefore, I am not afraid of this, because I myself am one of the people whose feelings can be influenced by religion and with the principles and tolerance of religion. “As an Egyptian Muslim, I respect the Islamic religion, and so it would not be right for me to go beyond this, and if I did go beyond this, I should return to it. However I also have another duty, namely to read and learn and work with modern science; to express my opinions; to enjoy literature and the arts. If we wanted it to be without writers, artists, intellectuals and scientists…then this is not Egypt.”

“My basis is Egyptian nationalism,” he continued. “This may require me to take a left-wing position, or a right-wing position, or a moderate position. The main thing is to take a nationalist position.”


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