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Egypt’s greatest enemy is poverty – Amr Moussa - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat – In an extensive interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, former Arab League Secretary-General and Egyptian presidential hopeful Amr Moussa spoke on a number of topics, including the political situation in Egypt, his presidential campaign, and his hopes for the future of the country.

Amr Moussa served as Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs between 1991 and 2001, following a career in the diplomatic service. Following this, Moussa served as Arab League Secretary-General between 2001 and 2011, leaving the post to return to Egypt following the ouster of former president Hosni Mubarak. Amr Moussa is perhaps the most prominent Egyptian presidential candidate to have thrown his hat into the ring, and opinion polls consistently show him as leading the Egyptian presidential race. The last such poll, conducted in November 2011, by the Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, showed Moussa winning 39 percent of the vote.

The following is the full text of the interview:

[Asharq Al-Awsat] You were amongst the Egyptian politicians who signed the Al-Azhar charter last week. What can you tell us about this?

[Moussa] There was an important document at Al-Azhar [University] which we signed. This was signed by the Prime Minister [Kamal al-Ganzuri], the Pope [Shenouda III of Alexandria], the General Guide of the Muslim Brotherhood [Mohammed Badei], and myself. In addition to this, the party leaders also signed this document, including the leaders of the Freedom and Justice party, the Wafd party, the al-Nour party, and others.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] How does this document or agreement differ from the other agreements that have been made?

[Moussa] It is an addition [to the other agreements]. It includes a very important article, called “completing the goals of the revolution”, and its [other] major articles confirm freedom of belief, freedom of opinion, freedom of expression, freedom of scientific research, freedom of creativity in literature and the arts, and more. All of this is coming from Al-Azhar University, which speaks about development, scientific research, freedom of worship, freedom of expression and more, and so this is something that is very good, and that is why I confidently signed this agreement. Al-Azhar is regaining and recovering its leadership role, informing the Egyptians and all the Muslims around the world that these principles are righteous Islamic principles, namely freedom of belief and worship….and therefore this is something that is very beautiful.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] You mentioned freedom of creativity in literature and the arts. Is this a response to the fears that the Islamists will restrict Egypt’s literature and arts?

[Moussa] No, I do not believe this. However this might be viewed as being a “response” to stagnation. Among those who attended the Al-Azhar signing was the leader of the [Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated] Freedom and Justice party Dr. Mohamed Morsy who said something very important. He said, we have won a majority [in parliament] but we believe that every Egyptian decision in the future requires consensus of opinion, otherwise this will result in one viewpoint dominating other viewpoints, one party dominating [other] parties, without any concern being paid to [parliamentary] majority and minority.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] As we approach the one-year anniversary of the 25 January revolution in Egypt, do you believe that the revolution has achieved its objectives, particularly as some people are claiming that what has happened is nothing more than superficial change; one corrupt and autocratic regime being traded in for another?

[Moussa] No, this is an extremely narrow point of view, which perhaps intends to inflame the situation. Otherwise, how can we explain the recent Egyptian parliamentary elections, which were completely different than all other elections that have taken place in Egypt over the past decades? Doesn’t this represent an essential step on the road to democracy, and which can be considered one of the objectives of the revolution? So, this is one objective that has been fulfilled. We can also take the specification of a deadline for a new president to be elected, which is 30 June, as the fulfillment of another revolutionary objective. This means that there is a transition from the era of dictatorship and autocratic hegemony to the era of a president being elected, not appointed. This was also one of the objectives of the revolution. What about the former president and pillars of the former regime being brought to trial? Wasn’t this also one of the revolutions objectives? The priorities of the political authorities, the presence of the revolution and revolutionary political parties and coalitions, and the main principles that everybody is talking about today…all of this is completely different from the past. When the proposal was put forward for a decentralized [political] system in Egypt, starting with the election of governors and mayors, and the presence of village, municipal, and provincial councils…this shows that democracy can now be found at all levels [of Egyptian politics]. Isn’t this the fulfillment of one of the objectives of the revolution? What about the change in Egyptian society at its most basic level, the change of rule, and the manner of ruling Egypt? When you hear everybody talking about reviewing Egypt’s legal and economic system, and rebuilding the country…all of this represents the fulfillment of the objectives of the Egyptian revolution. As for power being transferred from the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces [SCAF] to an elected national authority by 1 July [2012]…this will represent the fulfillment of one of the major objectives of the revolution.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] However despite these achievements, many people in Egypt – particularly the youth who drove the 25 January revolution – are disappointed about the course of events following Mubarak’s ouster. There are some fears that 25 January, 2012, may see the people taking to the street en masse to express their anger. Is this likely?

[Moussa] This is a good question, and some people do indeed believe that 25 January 2012, may be a day of clashes, or some forces of chaos may seek to incite such clashes.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] These people are demanding that SCAF immediately hand over power to a civil government. What is your view of this issue?

[Moussa] The issue of power being transferred immediately is not acceptable; otherwise we will be a Jamahiriya [Gaddafi’s Libya] and not a jumhuriya [republic]. This is not possible, there will be a transition to an elected national authority, and I stress the term elected here, by the deadline that is already in place. As for the public discussion about the 25 January anniversary, this will be a day of celebration, a day of unity and coming together, not a day of clashes and chaos.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] What about those who fear bloody clashes breaking out in Egypt between 25 January and 11 February, the anniversary of the ouster of the Mubarak regime? Do you think there is any possibility of this happening?

[Moussa] Why would this happen? This is not one of the demands of the revolution. This is an anarchist demand, and there is a big difference between those calling for revolution and those calling for anarchy.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] When will candidates begin to register their candidacy for the Egyptian presidential elections?

[Moussa] This will begin on 15 April, although it may be moved forward by a week or two. Then an agreement will be made regarding a roadmap [for the presidential elections], with the final deadline for this being 30 June. This date is not far away, rather it is fast approaching. From 15 April until that day…this is when the presidential elections campaigns will take place.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] What about the debate that is raging regarding whether a new constitution should be drafted before the presidential elections?

[Moussa] There is a debate going on…and it is possible that we can bring an end to the issue of the [new] constitution within the next two months. There is more than enough time to draft a constitution before the presidential elections, particularly as the majority of the constitutional issues have been agreed upon. The disputes are confined to the issue of the ruling system, whether this will be a presidential or parliamentary system, and regarding the precise powers of the president and parliament. In addition to this, there are other issues such as Egypt’s identity, the representation of “worker” and “farmer” members of parliament and more. It will not be difficult to reach an agreement on these issues. The constitutional role of the military institution must also be decided. This is an institution that must be respected as one of the key institutions of the state.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] In your own opinion, would you prefer to see the president elected first, or the new constitution drawn up before the presidential elections?

[Moussa] Neither one nor the other; the [new] president must be elected and in office on 1 July, 2012, whether the constitution has been drafted or not. This is something that must not delay the presidential election; however it would be better if the constitution was in place by that date.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] What are the priorities for the next president?

[Moussa] Speaking for myself, I believe that my mission is to rebuild Egypt, or rather, to lead the operation to rebuild the country, coordinating between all the national forces. In order to rebuild Egypt we would need to implement three things, namely: democracy, reform, and economic development. By democracy, I do not just mean the ballot box, but also human rights, separation of powers, and the independence of the judiciary. As for the issue of reform, the first thing that we must do is eliminate corruption, and let me tell you how. Corruption did not come out of nowhere, it was institutional. Look at the hundreds of laws that were issued over the previous years and you will find that they are full of exceptions and loopholes that lead to corruption not being penalized; this is something that came at the expense of Egypt’s poor people and can be seen in the laws regarding construction of buildings, laws of [purchasing] agricultural land, and even the laws regarding the licensing of stalls. As citizens in a third world country, we must realize that poverty is the basis of corruption, for everybody wants to take as much as they can. Therefore, one must keep in mind that Egypt’s greatest enemy is poverty, and therefore the basis of one’s program and action is to combat poverty, in every sense of the word, and so this means material poverty, but also moral poverty. As for the third point, which is economic – and social – development, we must put in place an economic program for the future. The short-term [economic] program that is being implemented today is the responsibility of Egyptian Prime Minister Kamal al-Ganzuri, because he is in charge of ruling the country until 30 June. However we must also look to the future, and make medium and long-term economic plans.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] Let us talk about the trials that are taking place of former regime figures. Some people are casting doubts about these trials, particularly as many of them are still ongoing. What is your view of this issue?

[Moussa] I would say that since there are trials there must also be judgments…that is expected. The issue is not trials taking place in order for an audience to observe this; rather this is in order to achieve justice. We are waiting for these judgments, and I believe that the ruling in the trial of former president [Hosni Mubarak] will be issued sometime this month.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] Returning to the 25 January revolution, how would you respond to the claims that there have been attempts to distort the image of the revolution and portray them as foreign agents, following accusations that they have received funding from foreign countries?

[Moussa] You can add the anarchists’ entry on the scene to this, for they have also distorted the image of the revolutionaries. Someone who wants to burn down a ministry, or disrupt [political] operations, and more…is certainly not a revolutionary. I have heard how many of the revolutionary youth have taken action to prevent such acts and disruption. I would therefore agree that there are indeed attempts being made to distort the image of the revolution and the revolutionaries, however achieving the objective of the revolution will vindicate the revolution and the revolutionaries.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] Politics in Egypt has always been centralized, even during the Mamluk and Ottoman periods. The power has always been held in the hands of a small ruling class, whether we are talking about land barons during the Ottoman era or the army following the 1952 revolution. After all of this, will it be easy for true democracy to take root in Egypt?

[Moussa] Over the past three decades, power was not in the grip of the Egyptian armed forces, but rather the hands of a harsh security-based regime. There is a difference between the two. The regime over the past thirty years was authoritarian and dictatorial based upon a brutal security service that had besieged the people; it [power] was not in the hands of the army. This centralized regime caused a number of social phenomenon to occur in Egyptian society. Firstly, 50 percent of Egyptians are living below the poverty line. In other words, 1 out of 2 Egyptians is poor, whilst the second is most likely not rich. 30 percent of Egyptians are illiterate, or in other words, 1 out of 3 Egyptians cannot read or write. The figures also say that Egypt has an unemployment rate of between 20 and 25 percent, or that approximately one out of every 4 or 5 Egyptians is out of work. Why has all of this happened? This is due to poor governance, excessive centralization of power, and cruel dictatorship. However we have now replaced dictatorship with democracy…there can be no doubt about this, at least.

The other issue, with regards to administering the country, is that this must be managed by officials who are close to the people. Here we come to what I previously called for, namely governors and mayors must be elected by the people. Not elected and forgotten about, but rather elected and held accountable by a legislative council, whether we are talking about a village council, neighborhood council, or provincial council, in addition to parliament. I proposed this idea and published it in an article, and it was even commented on in Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper. This will result in the creation of a generation of politically aware youth. The minimum age for a parliamentary candidate [in Egypt] is 25 years old; however this is 21 for local councils. The same goes for women, and young women will have the opportunity to enter such councils. So let us open the door to restructuring political operations and tools of governance in Egypt. This is part of my own personal view of what is required from the next president.

Returning to the current situation, and with the approaching anniversary of the 25 January revolution, we cannot measure the revolutionary achievements every week or month, because there are achievements that will not be fully realized even in 20 years’ time. However there are achievements that have been made on the ground and the important thing is that we are moving forward. When the president is elected, it will be his mission to review the unjust laws, begin to fight corruption and poverty…these are the things that will achieve the objectives of the revolution in a sustained manner.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] The Egyptian people have not been used to being politically in charge, and even Gamel Abdul Nasser, in his book “Egypt’s Liberation: The Philosophy of the Revolution” said that the Egyptian people are politically passive. Do you think that the Egyptian people can engage with democracy today?

[Moussa] Of course, the Egyptian people can do this; they took action to save themselves during the era of dictatorship. The Egyptian people are like all people…why should the Egyptian people be an exception from all the other people in the world and unable to engage with democracy? The Indian people, the Vietnamese, the Malaysians, the Turks, and the Tunisians all engaged with democracy…why not the Egyptians? Such statements aim to harm the Egyptian people and convince them that they are unable to do so…but I say that the Egyptian people are capable, and you will see this in the future. We have seen the parliamentary elections take place, and the presidential elections are on the way…whilst elections will soon take place at all levels, including village, municipal, and provincial council elections. This will represent a great boost to the democratic process in Egypt.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] Bearing in mind the famous proverb, those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it, let us look to Egypt’s past. In 1805, for example, al-Azhar was a major player, and one of the reasons why Muhammad Ali Pasha was chosen as the Ottoman administrator for Egypt. Today, al-Azhar is also exerting its influence in the political scene, whilst the Islamists are in the ascendency, whether we are talking about the Muslim Brotherhood or the Salafists. In your own opinion, which party is the most dominant today with regards to choosing the presidency? Who should a presidential candidate gamble on?

[Moussa] Presidential candidates must gamble on all of these forces and not preclude any of them. Many regimes, particularly the former Egyptian regime, gambled that the army, the police, its supporters, funds, and even foreign powers, would protect it. However they forgot the most important thing, namely the people. Therefore anybody who wants to stand for the [presidential] election must not rely on this political force or that political force, but rather the Egyptian people. A presidential candidate must convince the people at a grass-roots level to endorse their candidacy. I believe that the people now understand that a major imbalance was in place in Egyptian society, and this requires a number of things [in order to resolve]. This requires a strong and politically aware presidency, cooperation between the presidency and parliament, an efficient and capable government, and strong Egyptian relations with the Arab world and international community, based upon mutual trust and confidence. All of this is needed if we are to extricate ourselves from the problems we are facing today. Therefore, the next president will face a difficult presidential campaign, and a large responsible [following his election], this won’t be a picnic, but rather a harsh responsibility for whoever becomes the president.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] You are putting yourself forward as an independent presidential candidate, without any connection to the political parties and coalitions that are present in the Egyptian political arena today. How will you respond if all the major parties put forward presidential candidates to compete against you?

[Moussa] It is up to the people to decide. There are major parties and coalitions who put forward parliamentary candidates who succeeded. The Freedom and Justice party has won a parliamentary majority, whilst the al-Nour party has also won a large number of parliamentary seats, not to mention the Wafd party and the Kutla al-Masriya. Some of these parties will undoubtedly nominate presidential candidates…but I am saying “this is my [political] program and this is what I think, and I believe that I will be completely capable of resolving the problem and leading the process of reconstruction in Egypt should I be elected.” It is up to the Egyptian people to vote. Democracy means that candidates must be prepared for victory as well as defeat.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] In the forthcoming period will there be any reliance on any particular coalition? Will you try to convince any parties to back your candidacy?

[Moussa] Of course, I will talk with all parties and coalitions and indeed all people, and even with you personally to convince you to vote for me! I have already started to visit villages and small towns and provinces to speak with the people.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] Are you afraid of presidential candidates trying to use religion to secure votes?

[Moussa] The Egyptian people are aware [of this]. We, as Egyptians, know that our feelings can be influenced by religion; therefore, I am not afraid of this, because I myself am one of the people whose feelings can be influenced by religion and with the principles and tolerance of religion. However we must also not forget that inside each of us there is the religious side, and the patriotic side….and this is why the country is drowning, and there must be serious political operations to address this. I want to guarantee job opportunities at home and abroad to our youth, as well as develop our own industries, particularly tourism and agriculture. This is something that we must do.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] During the parliamentary elections, despite the law and the constitution banning religion being used in politics, most members of the Islamist parties did so, using mosques during their election campaigns, for example. What is your view of this?

[Moussa] I believe that Egypt’s collective [political] awareness is far too advanced to view this situation as being an issue of worship only. The issue is one of respecting other religions. As an Egyptian Muslim, I respect the Islamic religion, and so it would not be right for me to go beyond this, and if I did go beyond this, I should return to it. However I also have another duty, namely to read and learn and work with modern science; to express my opinions; to enjoy literature and the arts. What is Egypt? Egypt is al-Azhar, the well-educated elite that has led sciences, literature, and art throughout the Arab world and the Middle East over the past years. Therefore Egypt is Taha Hussein and Abbas al-Akkad. Egypt is Umm Kalthoum and Mohammed Abdel Wahab. It is Ahmed Shawqi and Hafez Ibrahim. It is the renowned scientist Ali Moustafa Moshrafa. It is Naguib Mahfouz. This is Egypt. If we wanted it to be without writers, artists, intellectuals, and scientists…then this is not Egypt.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] Despite all this, many people have expressed their fears that many of Egypt’s freedoms will take a step backwards, particularly with regards to the parliamentary majority enjoyed by the Islamists. Were these parliamentary results a source of concern for you?

[Moussa] No, I am not concerned about this at all, because this is democracy. What can you say about an Islamist parliamentary majority…when this is what the people decided…and we are still waiting for the results of the presidential elections. Some people are saying that there were a lot of irregularities in the parliamentary elections…however whatever the case, these results reflect the mood in Egypt today. As for the public’s mood regarding Egypt’s future, I think the public wants to see a balance between the different components [of the Egyptian government].

[Asharq Al-Awsat] There have been claims that the Muslim Brotherhood affiliated Freedom and Justice Party will back current Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby for the presidency. Have you given this scenario any thought?

[Moussa] No, I have not thought about this. I am in contact with everybody, and with Dr. Nabil Elaraby, and also with [Advisory Council president] Mansour Hassasn, and others. Their position is that they are outside of the scope of presidential candidacy, however even if this did occur…then I welcome it. When the name of Nabil Elaraby, or any other, is put forward, this does not bother me, indeed I welcome it.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] What about if SCAF decided to lend its support to a particular candidate? What if SCAF chairman Field Marshall Hussein Tantawi decided to stand for the presidency? Would you continue your candidacy?

[Moussa] I am committed to standing for the [presidential] electoral battle, God willing, until the end. I understand that the Field Marshall is not interested in standing as a candidate. We make assumptions on this…and then ask questions about these assumptions, and create a confused and tense position. The man [Tantawi] did not say that he will stand for election, so why are we even discussing this. Let me also say that I welcome all candidates, for it is the [Egyptian] people that will decide, and which will seek to uncover the shape of every candidate. Everyone must get involved and take part in campaign tours and speak with the people and receive the insults [from political opponents], with the people supporting some views, and being against others…so it is not easy. It is no longer a case of this candidate is being supported by this figure, therefore it’s over…no…the candidates will have to go to the villages and talk to the Egyptian people, and they will say yes or no, whether you are good enough or not.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] You have stressed that you intend to take part in the presidential electoral battle “until the end”, but what can you tell us about your policies? Do you see yourself as belonging to the left-wing, the right-wing, or the moderate?

[Moussa] My basis is Egyptian nationalism. This may require me to take a left-wing position, or a right-wing position, or a moderate position [depending on the circumstances]. The main thing is to take a nationalist position…that is in the interests of Egypt and the Egyptian people. As I am part of the Arab world, I must also respect the Arab and African dimensions. I believe that Egyptian vitality is a trinity…namely Arabic, African, and Mediterranean.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] Some of your political opponents have made references to the fact that you were a minister under the former regime, saying this makes you unsuitable to preside over the new Egypt. What is your opinion of this?

[Moussa] Yes, I was a minister under the former regime. Indeed, I was not just any minister in the former regime, I was the foreign minister. I was the Egyptian Foreign Minister between 1991 and 2001, and I carried out my duties and responsibilities according to my conscience. It makes me happy to recall the overwhelming support and respect that Egyptian diplomacy enjoys from the Egyptian people, Arab world, and international community. This is an issue that I do not fear, and my answer is that this is something that is not said by the revolutionaries, but by [opposing] political campaigns that want to take advantage of the people. If former Egyptian prime minister Essam Sharaf was a minister under Hosni Mubarak and a member of the National Democratic Party …and was chosen and nominated as Prime Minister by Tahrir Square [following the ouster of Mubarak], so what if I was [also] a minister? This is double standards and cheap talk.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] What about the claims that you are receiving financial backing from Saudi Arabia? There have been reports that you have received as much as 50 million Egyptian pounds for your presidential campaign…is this true?

[Moussa] This is completely untrue. Saudi Arabia is a friend and sister state [to Egypt], and it is waiting to see what will happen in Egypt. Saudi Arabia has taken the same line with regards to all the candidates and political trends in Egypt. As for the issue that Saudi Arabia sent me money, I completely deny this. This did not happen, and will never happen. I call on those who make such claims and write such things to comply with God Almighty, because this is not true.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] The future of Egypt’s relations with Israel is an issue that weighs large in the minds of Egypt’s citizens. What is your view on this issue?

[Moussa] I visited many villages in Upper Egypt and elsewhere, and whilst talking about various domestic issues such as services to citizens, education, and more, no meeting would end without the question of Palestine being raised. Since the beginning of the 25 January revolution, when I was Secretary-General of the Arab League, the youths – when speaking to me – would always include questions about Palestine, the state of Palestine, Gaza, and Hamas. Let me tell you that the Middle East region needs a new system. The Arab world and the Middle East are in the process of change, and so the previous way of doings things is no longer good enough. Firstly, we must put forward a new political, economic, and security system in the region. Secondly, and with regards to Egypt, the Arab – Israeli conflict, and the Palestinian Cause, Egypt must and will continue to be part of the Arab Initiative [for peace]. Egypt’s policy on the Arab – Israeli conflict, and its resolution, must be based on the Arab Initiative. As for Egyptian – Israeli relations, the Egyptian – Israeli peace treaty is in place, and I do not think there are any circumstances that will lead to its cancellation. I do not think this will happen, and I do not think it would be wise for this treaty to be cancelled. The treaty will continue so long as each party respects it…as for the security situation in the Sinai Peninsula and the presence of Egyptian forces there, I believe that the security articles of the treaty should be reviewed in this regard. This is something that can be discussed within a political framework. As for the Palestinian Cause, Egypt must not turn its back on this, for this is part of Egypt’s national security. As Egyptians, we are the largest neighbor to Palestine and Israel, and so we must work to control the situation in this region. This is via three points: solving the Arab – Israeli conflict in a just and respectable manner, solving the Palestinian Cause through the establishment of a genuine Palestinian state, and by establishment an atmosphere where everybody feels safe, most prominently through nuclear non-proliferation

[Asharq Al-Awsat] What about the issue of Egypt’s sale of natural gas to Israel? Will this deal remain unchanged?

[Moussa] There are two issues that must be decided. Firstly, whether we will sell natural gas to Israel or not, and secondly, how such sales will take place. There is a lot of corruption in the gas deals that occurred in the past. This corruption must be immediately addressed. As for the issue of whether we will continue such sales, the [Egyptian] political apparatus must look into this and consider how it will manage Egypt’s gas and oil policies, environmental policies, etc.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] When you were Arab League Secretary-General, you played a major role in internationalizing the situation in Libya during the Libyan revolution; however following your departure it seems that the Arab League has suffered one setback after another, particularly with regards to the situation in Syria. What is your view of this?

[Moussa] I believe in taking the issue of change in the Arab world very seriously. The Arab’s League’s operations in this regard should be in line with the course of history. Therefore I completely reject the issue of practicing violence against citizens and suppressing revolutions and attempts to stop the wheel of change.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] What about the Syrian regime continuing to kill Syrian citizens at this time? It seems that the Arab League is not dealing with the Syrian revolution in the same manner as the Libyan revolution. Why is that?

[Moussa] Libya was in between two countries where change had taken place, namely Tunisia and Egypt; therefore it was hard to avoid such change. Syria is in a region that does not respond to revolutions. It is also an extremely sensitive region…being next to Israel, as well as Arab states that fear certain political developments. Syria is next to Iraq, Turkey, and others. However this by no means justifies the use of violence against citizens, nor does it justify the death of 5,000 citizens in clashes with the government. I am not in the picture regarding what precisely the Arab League is doing [with regards to Syria], but I believe that the Arab League delegation of monitors must be considered a first step, and not the end of the road. As I said, the situation in Syria is different to Libya. There are a number of complexities surrounding the Syrian situation; however this does not justify the bloodshed that is being seen in the Syrian streets. I believe that the Arab League should take a clear position regarding change [in Syria], and that violence against the [Syrian] citizens must stop, otherwise it is up to the relevant international security authorities to take action.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] If you were the Arab League Secretary-General today, how would you resolve this crisis?

[Moussa] Firstly, there must be a halt to the violence against the citizens.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] However how would you achieve this?

[Moussa] The Arab League observers must submit daily reports about what is happening. How can Syrian citizens be fired upon when they are in Syria? Moreover Arab diplomacy must become more active, and the Arab States must act together as a group, not individuals, along with the Arab League, to communicate with the international community [about the situation in Syria]. All countries are concerned about what is happening in Syria, due to the sensitive regional position it occupies. The Syrian crisis is already internationalized, but this did not take. Egypt must also play as prominent a role as Turkey and Iran in confronting and resolving the situation in Syria.

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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