The head of the United Nations Independent Commission of Inquiry in Syria, Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, held talks with Foreign Minister Mohamed Amr Sunday morning. During these talks, Amr reiterated Egypt’s commitment to finding a political solution to the conflict, denouncing intervention. The commission, which was set up to monitor and record all instances of war crimes in Syria, shared their plans with the ministry, which was unable to discuss the matter directly.
Nazih El-Naggary, deputy spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, highlighted Egypt’s strong political stance, hosting the Syrian opposition, stating Egypt is an active country when it comes to supporting the Syrian revolution. “We have adopted a stance that is clearly in support of regime change in Syria,” he said. “It is extremely important for the Syrian opposition to be clear on Egypt’s position, while another front in the region is still hesitating to support change,” he added.
El-Naggary stressed the importance to settle the Syrian crisis by way of a political transition. “Toppling the regime militarily would make it much harder for the nation to stand up and rebuild again,” he explained. “We hope that state institutions can live through this very tough experience, if we manage to achieve regime change through a political solution.”
Since the onset of the violence, many countries have called for intervention, but El-Naggary dismissed the notion, saying it could lead to opposing power blocks also intervening, thus intensifying the conflict and creating more rifts within the society.
A military intervention, El-Naggary said, would devastate the country. “[On Sunday] we saw a couple of hundred casualties across Syria and in the face of international intervention we can expect the casualties to be much higher. The country is in a difficult situation right now and we would not want to push them into a civil war.” Sergio Pinheiro agreed that a military intervention would be off the table.
On the subject of foreign intervention, the ministry spokesperson said Egypt would do its best to minimise foreign intervention, which he admitted also includes financial aid and the supply of arms. “The regime has unfortunately drawn everyone into the conflict,” El-Naggary said, adding the Egyptian government still believes a military outcome, even an armed opposition, will not save Syrian unity.
He affirmed that Egypt does not supply Syria with weapons, nor does the government support arming opposition fighters. “Financial support to the Syrian opposition,” he said, “does not come from Egypt as we are currently facing a sensitive economic situation.”
Iran and Russia are the largest players opposing any form of intervention from the international community. With nearly half the population coming from several different minority groups, Russia argues that military intervention would only serve to fracture the nation even more. As its citizens pay the iron price for the conflict, neither a political nor military end is in sight. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a London-based monitoring group, more than 40,000 people have been killed in the fighting, most of which are reported to be civilians.