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Morsy’s initiative presented in China

How likely is Morsy’s Quartet initiative to solve the Syrian crisis?

Egypt's President Mohamed Morsi (left) chats with Chinese Vice-President Xi Jinping (right) during their meeting in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing AFP PHOTO / POOL
Egypt’s President Mohamed Morsi (left) chats with Chinese Vice-President Xi Jinping (right) during their meeting in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing

President Mohamed Morsy has met with Chinese President Hu Jintao in China, where he invited the Chinese leader to join his quartet initiative to resolve the Syrian crisis.

“It’s time for the bloodshed in Syria to stop,” Morsy told Reuters, adding that the regime which killed its own people “must leave.”
Nevertheless, both presidents agreed on avoiding any foreign intervention in Syria. Morsy’s invitation to China would extend the “quartet”, which already includes Turkey, Egypt, Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Morsy first aired his initiative at the recent Organisation of Islamic Cooperation summit in Mecca, in which he advocated for Muslims to unite around causes from Palestinian liberation to Mynamar minority rights, and for a new future in Syria to be ushered in by cooperation between Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Iran.

“Theoretically speaking, the (Middle East) region requires cooperation among its main key players,” Rabha Allam, researcher at Al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic studies (ACPSS) said, commenting on Morsy’s proposal.

“Nevertheless, an initiative solely based on talks could have been accepted by the Syrian people and opposition during the first couple of months of the uprising, or maybe during the first year. Now, such initiative is only bound to buy Al-Assad more time.”

One of the main obstacles Morsy’s initiative faces is the other countries’ existing involvement in other proposed solutions to the Syria crisis.

“Saudi Arabia, for instance, is looking more towards a Yemeni-style solution,” Allam said, referring to the Yemeni uprising which was partially resolved by providing former President Aly Abdallah Saleh with safe exit, replacing him his Vice President, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Al-Hadi who came to power through a popular referendum in February.

As for Turkey, according to Allam, the solution it is offering to the Syria crisis remains “obscure, though mainly regarding implementing control over the Kurdish presence in the region.”

Iran meanwhile, which would in some ways be the odd man out in this quartet, supports Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad. Unlike the other three groups, Iran stuck by him through the recent carnage in Syria.

“Iran can never sacrifice Al-Assad,” Allam said. “Thus, any resolution to the Syria crisis which counts Iran’s interests out will be halted by Iran, even if that is through encouraging civil strife in Syria.”

Mohamed Abbass Nagui, another researcher in ACPSS agreed with Allam’s analysis. “Iran has even submitted another initiative to include Egypt and Venezuela,” Nagui said.

The Iranian-sponsored initiative was created by Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) members, according to Iranian state-owned FARS news agency.

“It seems like we’re going around in a vicious circle while the situation keeps deteriorating,” Nagui said.

As for Morsy’s invitation to china to join the quartet, it seems illogical on more than just the nominal level.

“The situation needs a regional solution,” Allam said.

Nagui too points to the difficulty of including a country which has repeatedly blocked Security Council resolutions sanctioning Al-Assad or calling for his departure in solving the Syria crisis.

“China is an important international backer to the Syrian regime, just like Iran,” Nagui said.

“The ceiling for Morsy’s demands regarding the Syrian crisis were very high right after assuming power,” Allam said.

“Yet, now he is coupling up with the Chinese policy in being against any foreign intervention.”

The foggy nature of Egypt’s current foreign policy is also bound to take its toll on the initiative, Allam said.

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