Ghannouchi expects Saudi mediation in Egypt, Syria

TUNIS – Rachid Ghannouchi, the head of Tunisia's Ennahda Islamist movement, predicted that the new leadership of Gulf powerhouse Saudi Arabia will adopt a mediatory role in Egypt and Syria.

"I expect [new] King Salman bin Abdulaziz to lead reconciliation efforts in the region and specifically in Egypt and Syria," Ghannouchi told The Anadolu Agency in an exclusive interview, excerpts of which were published on Thursday.

King Salman became the new monarch of the oil-rich monarchy late last month after the death of his older half-brother King Abdullah at the age of 90.

Under Abdullah's tenure, Saudi Arabia was among the first countries to support - both diplomatically and financially - Egypt's government which followed the ouster of elected Islamist President Mohamed Morsi in the summer of 2013.

Following Morsi's ouster, Egyptian authorities launched a deadly crackdown on Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood group which saw hundreds of protesters killed and thousands said to have been thrown in jail.

Saudi Arabia has also labeled the Brotherhood a "terrorist organization," a few months after Egypt designated the decades-old group as such, while Morsi's supporters continue to rally for his reinstatement.

During King Abdullah's rule, Saudi Arabia also openly backed Syria's armed opposition groups against the regime of Bashar al-Assad throughout Syria's uprising-turned-civil war which erupted in 2011.

"Exclusionary policies do not resolve crises," Ghannouchi said. "The only way to evade chaos and infighting in any country is by reaching consensus between its major forces."

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