Egypt is against external interference into Syrian affairs, Egyptian ambassador to Russia Mohamed Elbadri told Sputnik on Monday.
“For Egypt it is a moral stand: we do not agree with foreign powers intervening in Syrian state affairs,” Elbadri said.
The diplomat added that Egypt believed in the integrity of Syria as a state and that it was up to the Syrian people, not foreign powers, to decide on the legitimacy and structure of the country’s future government. A solution to the existing disputes in the country should be negotiated by Syrian authorities and opposition forces in accordance with the Geneva I accords, the ambassador stressed.
The ambassador said Egypt was making efforts to help the Syrian opposition formalize a joint position on reconciliation, adding that remaining split into separate groups, with different opinions and foreign interference, has not produced positive results so far and should be reversed.
Syria is torn by a civil war that broke out in 2011, with multiple insurgent groups fighting government forces. The country is facing a major threat from the Islamic State (ISIL) jihadist group. The ISIL has captured large areas of Syria and neighboring Iraq, and established a caliphate on territory under its control.
Geneva and Moscow have each hosted two rounds of talks between government forces and opposition groups with little effect. Last week, the Kazakh capital of Astana also served as a venue for negotiations.
The US-led coalition against Islamic State (ISIL) militants needs to be more universal when it comes to fighting terrorism, Mohamed Elbadri said.
“You fight ISIL [Islamic State] in Syria and Iraq but at the same time you leave it in Libya. This is very imbalanced. Even now as we speak we have monitored some of these terrorist organizations, their links with ISIL are very clear but somehow we see this imbalanced approach of fighting ISIL. The fight against terrorism must not be selective,” Elbadri said.
The ISIL is a militant group which has taken over large parts of Syria and Iraq. The militants are also active in Libya, carrying out numerous suicide attacks, abductions and executions. The group also controls several airports and cities in the country.
The United States formed an international coalition to fight against ISIL militants in Iraq and Syria in September, 2014. The coalition has been conducting airstrikes against ISIL positions in Syria, and continuing air attacks on ISIL in Iraq, first launched by the United States in August, 2014.
Egypt’s role in countering the Islamic State (ISIL) extremist groups includes promoting moderate Islam, Egyptian Ambassador stated.
“The only way to do it is to confront it. Not only by military means but you also need to confront it intellectually through moderation,” Elbadri said.
In February, the group released footage depicting the execution of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians in Libya. The two countries conducted airstrikes on ISIL targets on Libyan territory in response.
Elbadri added that another approach Egypt is willing to adopt in its anti-ISIL campaign is to confront extremism with a moderate Islamic religious ideology.
“Al-Azhar [Mosque in Cairo’s religious center] is the minaret of moderate Islam in the world. It is important to confront these extremist ideologies by a moderate ideology,” the Egyptian envoy said.
Built over 1,000 years ago, the Al-Azhar Mosque has become a central and “certainly the most prestigious element in the state-religion complex in Egypt,” according to the Carnegie Endowment, a US think tank.
Following ex-president Hosni Mubarak’s ouster in the wake of the 2011 Arab Spring unrest, Al-Azhar became a focal point of political dialogue among various of the country’s religious and non-religious factions.
Current President Abdel Fattah Sisi spoke on the Al-Azhar grounds in January, calling for this institution to play an active role in battling radical Islam.