Syria bid to resolve Yusuf dispute

Dubai police chief threatened to arrest cleric over criticism.

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Syrian opposition leaders moved yesterday to defuse a verbal spat involving the UAE, Dubai's police chief and the Muslim Brotherhood.

The Syrian National Council denied asking the controversial Sheikh Yusuf Al Qaradawi to intervene in the dispute, the state news agency Wam reported.

"We do not need a mediator between us and the UAE, with which we have strong ties," the council said. The dispute began when a group of Syrians had their residence permits revoked after a demonstration outside their country's consulate in Dubai on February 10.

The move was criticised by Sheikh Yusuf, who has strong links to Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood and features in his own programme on Al Jazeera.

In response, the Dubai police chief, Lt Gen Dahi Khalfan Tamim, threatened to issue a warrant for Sheikh Yusuf's arrest if he repeated his criticism of the UAE.

A Muslim Brotherhood spokesman, Mahmud Ghazlan, said the "entire Muslim world" would act against the UAE if it issued an arrest warrant for the Egyptian imam.

The Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Anwar Gargash, met the Egyptian foreign minister, Mohammed Amr, to demand an explanation for Mr Ghazlan's comments.

They also drew condemnation from the Gulf Cooperation Council. The secretary general of the GCC, Dr Abdul Latif bin Rashid Al Zayani, said the threat was "irresponsible".

"What affects the UAE affects all GCC member states," said Mr Al Zayani. The remarks were "inconsistent" with unifying the Arab world, he added.

The Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party won more seats than any other party in Egypt's lower house of parliament in the country's recent election.