Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi put to rest Western concerns that he's drawing into Iran's orbit Thursday with a strong repudiation of Syrian President Bashar Assad, a close ally of the Iranian regime.
Speaking at the summit of the Cold War-era Non-Aligned Movement in Iran, Morsi called on the 120 members of the group to stand against Assad's “oppressive” regime, Reuters reports, prompting a walkout by the Syrian delegation. Morsi raised U.S. concerns earlier this week with his call for Iran, a powerful regional player, to participate in a multilateral peace effort alongside Egypt, Turkey and Saudi Arabia after the Western-backed United Nations peace effort proved a failure.
“The bloodshed in Syria is our responsibility on all our shoulders and we have to know that the bloodshed cannot stop without effective interference from all of us," Morsi reportedly said. "We all have to announce our full solidarity with the struggle of those seeking freedom and justice in Syria, and translate this sympathy into a clear political vision that supports a peaceful transition to a democratic system of rule that reflects the demands of the Syrian people for freedom."
Separately, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, whose presence at the summit had been criticized by the United States and Israel, had harsh words for Iran's anti-Israel stance.
“I strongly reject threats by any member state to destroy another or outrageous attempts to deny historical facts, such as the Holocaust,” Ban said.