Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi on Wednesday told a meeting of Arab League ministers it was time for the Syrian regime to step down and added that a resolution of the crisis was an Arab responsibility.
“I tell the Syrian regime ‘there is still a chance to end the bloodshed’. Now is the time for change… no time to be wasted talking about reform,” Morsi told the Cairo meeting.
“Don’t take the right step at the wrong time… because that would be the wrong step,” he said.
He urged President Bashar al-Assad to “take lessons from recent history” and step aside, in reference to Arab Spring revolts that overthrew the longtime dictators of Tunisia, Egypt and Libya.
Morsi, who in June was elected Egypt’s first Islamist leader following an uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak, urged the Arab diplomats to move quickly to resolve the Syrian conflict, which according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has left 26,000 people dead since it erupted more than 17 months ago.
“The Syrian people have made their voice clear,” Morsi said, and, in a message to the Assad regime, insisted: “You will not be around for long.”
He told the ministers a resolution of the crisis is the responsibility of Arabs.
“The Syrian blood that is being shed day and night, we are responsible for this,” Morsi said. “We cannot sleep while Syrian blood is being shed.”
“I call on you, Arab foreign ministers, to work hard to find an urgent solution to the tragedy in Syria,” Morsi said.
Addressing Arab states he said: “If we don’t move, the world won’t move with any seriousness.”
Morsi had lashed out at the Syrian regime during a speech at the summit of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) in Tehran last week, calling it “oppressive” while publicly urging support for rebels seeking Assad’s ouster.
“Our solidarity with the struggle of Syrians against an oppressive regime that has lost its legitimacy is an ethical duty, and a political and strategic necessity,” he said.
His comments drew a bitter retort from Damascus that Morsi’s Islamist beard was the only thing that distinguishes him from Mubarak.
Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zohbi on Monday charged that the Egyptian leader was complicit in the armed revolt rocking his country.
“He is responsible for spilling Syrian blood, as are the Qataris, the Saudis and the Turks,” Zohbi said.