Egypt’s new foreign minister has said that Cairo is re-evaluating its relationship with Syria following the military’s toppling of president Mohamed Morsi.
In his first public comments since becoming Egypt’s top diplomat, Nabil Fahmy said on Saturday that the country continues to support the Syrian uprising but that Cairo has no intention of waging jihad, or holy war, in Syria.
“There is no intention of jihad in Syria,” Fahmy said, in reference to calls for a holy war in Syria under Morsi’s presidency.
The new foreign minister said Morsi’s decision to cut diplomatic ties with war-torn Syria would be “re-examined,” while stressing that did not mean they would “resume or not resume”.
Fahmy’s comments signalled a shift from Morsi’s approach.
Just weeks before Morsi was deposed on July 3, a senior presidential aide said authorities would not prevent Egyptians from travelling to Syria to join the rebel cause.
Morsi also attended a rally on June 15 in which hard-line Muslim leaders urged young Egyptians to go fight in Syria.
Speaking at the rally, Morsi announced he was severing diplomatic ties with Damascus.
Protesters press on
On Saturday, protesters demanding the ousted president’s return pressed on after tens of thousands of his supporters and opponents rallied and clashes killed three people overnight.
Thousands of Morsi loyalists held a sit-in at Cairo’s Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque from the morning, waving Egyptian flags and carrying portraits of the deposed leader.
“People power vs military might,” read one banner.
The gathering comes amid heightened political tensions in Egypt, following a day of rival rallies across the country, the largest since the formation of a new government this week, which turned violent in the Nile Delta city of Mansoura.
Health officials on Saturday confirmed the three killed were all women, and gave a toll of 34 people wounded in Mansura, 23 of whom remained in hospital.
A pro-Morsi protester injured in the clashes said thousands of loyalists were marching through the city’s narrow streets when “thugs” attacked them with guns, knives and rocks.