Presidential spokesperson Ehab Fahmi said on Monday that Egypt’s willingness to engage with Iran regarding the Syrian crisis stems from its “keenness to establish balanced relations with various regional and international powers”. The statement was made during a press conference where Fahmi said Egypt believes “Iran is an influential country, and while some may see them as part of the problem in Syria, Egypt believes they can be a part of the solution,” Aswat Masriya reported.
Fahmi added that the inclusion of Iran in talks reflects the consensus on the need to reach a political settlement to the crisis. He also called on the opposition to hold dialogue with those members of President Bashar Al-Assad’s regime “that do not have their hands stained with blood”, adding that any solution must be agreed on by the regime and the opposition, according to state-owned Al-Ahram.
The statement was made after President Mohamed Morsi’s assistant on Foreign Relations and International Cooperation, Essam El-Haddad, left for Turkey on Monday morning to convey a message from the president to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. According to state-owned Al-Ahram, Morsi is looking to restart the Syrian Quartet Initiative.
The move comes just two days after car bombs in a Turkish border town left 46 people dead. The Turkish government blamed a “Marxist terror organisation” which “is directly related to the [Syrian] regime”, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmed Davutoğlu said in a press conference on Saturday.
In the press conference Davutoğlu called on the international community to intervene against the ever-growing regional threat of the Al-Assad regime.
Damascus denied any involvement in the attack, placing instead the onus on Erdogan. Russian state television’s Arabic channel interviewed Syrian Information Minister Omran Zubi, who called Erdogan a “murderer” who “has no right to build a political career with the blood of Turkish and Syrian people”.
Meanwhile Iran, a member of the quartet and strong ally to Syria’s regime, accused Syrian rebel forces of using chemical weapons, a move which the Iranian foreign minister condemned on Sunday in an interview with German newspaper Der Spiegel. The foreign minister urged the international community to adopt proper measures to prevent these groups from using chemical weapons.
On Monday Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr spoke to his Russian counterpart regarding Syria. According to a statement issued by Egypt’s Foreign Ministry, Sergei Lavrov had called Amr to discuss recent developments in Syria and their respective efforts with regional and international players.
Amr and Lavrov also discussed the ongoing preparations for the international meeting on Syria scheduled to take place at the end of the month. The meeting was called for by Russia and the US, the Secretary of State John Kerry said earlier this month.
Amr left the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation meeting in Jeddah on Monday afternoon to attend a meeting of Arab foreign ministers in Abu Dhabi the same evening. The meeting in the United Arab Emirates is focused on support for Turkey and the Syrian opposition, a foreign ministry statement said.
The ministry said the meeting would address preparations for the upcoming international meeting on Syria.
Foreign ministry spokesperson Amr Roshdy said in the statement that the minister would reiterate Egypt’s unwavering stance on the Syrian crisis, stressing the need for a political solution in order to “preserve Syria’s territorial integrity, the fabric of its community and to achieve the aspirations of the Syrian people towards freedom and democracy”.
Morsi’s Syrian Quartet Initiative was proposed in August 2012 during the Islamic Summit held in Mecca. The Quartet is comprised on Egypt, Turkey, Iran and Saudi Arabia.
Egypt has attempted to play a key role in negotiations surrounding Syria in the region. Unlike the United States-led attempts at finding a solution, Egypt has involved three key regional players including Syria’s most important ally Iran, and held separate talks with Russia.
Up till now there have been no concrete results on the ground as a result of the Quartet Initiative, while Saudi Arabia has failed to participate in all but one meeting.
The Syrian civil war has now claimed at least 80,000 lives, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, and left over 1.4 million people displaced externally according to United Nations estimates.
The Syrian opposition has received support and recognition from much of the world, most notably Egypt, the Arab League, the European Union and the US, who all recognise the transitional government created to rule over rebel-occupied territories in Syria. The Syrian opposition has repeatedly said it refuses dialogue with Al-Assad. Russia however refuses Al-Assad’s resignation as preconditions for talks