Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi on Saturday announced that Egypt was cutting all ties with Syria, and ordered the Syrian embassy in Cairo closed.
Morsi also said Egypt will withdraw its ambassador from Damascus and said Cairo would begin providing Syrian opposition forces with financial aid. The Egyptian president was speaking at a conference on the Syrian uprising in Cairo on Saturday.
Support for the Lebanon-based terror group Hezbollah would also be withdrawn, Morsi said, marking a policy shift for Cairo, which backed the organization against Israel in the Second Lebanon War seven years ago.
“We supported Hezbollah during Lebanon war and today we stand against Hezbollah in its aggression on Syria,” said Morsi, adding that there will be no role for the current Syrian regime and the terror group in Syria’s future.
The Egyptian president called on Hezbollah to leave Syria, where the group has been fighting alongside regime forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad.
He said Cairo would coordinate aiding the rebels monetarily through Saudi Arabia and Turkey as well as other countries. He did not say what form the aid would take and whether it would include arms.
He also called on the international community to implement a no-fly zone over Syria, where some 93,000 people have been killed so far in the two-year war, according to the latest UN figures.
On Thursday, a senior official in Egypt’s presidency had said Egyptians were free to join the fight in Syria and would not be prosecuted upon their return.
In a response to an Associated Press question Thursday about the government’s stance on citizens going to fight alongside Syrian rebels, Khaled al-Qazzaz said that “the right of travel or freedom of travel is open for all Egyptians.”
He said that after the 2011 uprising, the government no longer punishes Egyptians for what they do in other countries. Al-Qazzaz, a foreign affairs adviser to Morsi, said the presidency does not consider Egyptian nationals in Syria a threat to Egypt’s security.
His comments come just days after influential Egyptian cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi urged Sunnis everywhere to join the fight against Assad.
Syria’s relations with Arab nations have progressively worsened as the violence in the country spiraled out of control.
In March, the Arab League granted the Damascus seat to Assad’s opposition at the 24th summit.
The 22-member bloc suspended Syria’s seat in November 2011, following the Assad regime’s violent crackdown on anti-government demonstrators in the country.
That same month, the Syrian opposition opened its first embassy in Doha, Qatar.