On the heels of the announcement that the U.S. will begin to arm the Syrian rebels, Egypt is cutting off all diplomatic ties with Syria and recalling its ambassador from Damascus, the AP reported Sunday.
"The Egyptian people supports the struggle of the Syrian people, materially and morally, and Egypt its nation, leadership ... and army, will not abandon the Syrian people until it achieves its rights and dignity," Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi said in his address during a "Support for Syria" rally in Cairo Stadium on Saturday.
Morsi also called on the Lebanese Shi'ite militia Hezbollah to withdraw from Syria, saying, "There is no space or place for Hezbollah in Syria." Thus Egypt, a mostly Sunni country, has helped deepen what has become a very sectarian conflict in Syria between a Shi'ite-Alawite Muslim alliance, led by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Hezbollah in Lebanon, and Iran, against the mostly Sunni rebels. Around 20,000 people attended the rally, AP said. Earlier in the week, Egyptian Sunni clerics had called for a jihad against the "sectarian regime" in Syria.
Morsi also called on the international community to enforce a no-fly zone over Syria, something the U.S. is said to be considering, but has yet to put in force, Middle East Online reported.
Syrian state media, naturally, didn't take the news of Egypt's move to supporting the rebels lightly. Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi attacked Morsi on Sunday, saying, ""The heretic project taking place in Egypt is part of the Zionist project," Israeli outlet YNet News reported.
Syria Online, a news site loyal to the Assad government, also accused Morsi of joined in the "Israel-U.S.-led band of conspiring and instigating against" the Syrian state.
"Syria is fully confident that this decision doesn't reflect the will of the brotherly Egyptian people who have shared strong and firm relations with the Syrian people that have contributed to protecting security and stability in the region against all the invaders and aggressors since the dawn of history," an "anonymous source" told Syria online.
Morsi himself is facing accusations of authoritarianism at home in Egypt; many of his former supporters believe that he's failed in bringing the country back from economic freefall, and he is facing strong opposition in the form of upcoming protests intending to force him out of office on June 30, the anniversary of his ascension to power.