- February 23, 2010
ElBaradei Meets Amr Moussa
The two men who have both indicated coyly they might run for President of Egypt under certain circumstances, Mohamed ElBaradei and ‘Amr Moussa, have met to discuss “the internal political issue” in Egypt as well as nuclear issues. (If, in the publicity of the last few days, you have forgotten this, ElBaradei used to know something about that subject.) Moussa is still Secretary-General of the Arab League.
ElBaradei, meanwhile, has been giving television interviews. Here’s a summary of one of them in English. Some of the quotes are chosen by Al-Masry al-Youm’s English paper:
“I’m willing to run against anyone in the upcoming presidential elections if the public wants me to,” former International Atomic Energy Agency director Mohamed ElBaradei said on Sunday during an interview on a popular television talk show.
“I’m no savior, but you can help me transform the authoritarian system which we’ve been ruled for 7000 years–into a democratic system,” he said. “I would wager that about 99 percent of the people desire this change.”
“We must change from a people who are told what to do into a people who can present their political, social and economic demands in an appropriate manner,” he said.
ElBaradei went on to thank President Hosni Mubarak for ordering the opening of the Cairo International Airport’s VIP arrival hall for his reception last Friday.
A couple of thoughts here: if you’re really going for 99% of the vote, you probably lost the Wafd by saying the country’s been authoritarian for 7000 years. (What about the years of Zahglul and Nahhas? We may not think they were democratic, but the Wafd likes to.) I’m not sure the Muslim Brotherhood is likely to board this bus either.
I will try to find and watch the interview in Arabic. I’m curious if the remark about Mubarak opening the VIP Arrival Hall to him at the airport was sardonic or not. The VIP Arrival Hall, I believe (not being a VIP), is separate from where his supporters were waiting and might have been a way of keeping interaction down.
If you haven’t already seen it, The Arabist’s piece over the weekend on “What Does ElBaradei Want?” is a useful analysis. He suggests ElBaradei and many of his supporters see his role not as a candidate who is likely to be allowed to run, let alone win, but as a symbol and a voice for the opposition and for rallying calls for change. If that’s his goal he has a lot more chance of success, I think, than if he expects to run and win.
And that picture with ‘Amr Moussa above is also a reminder that even some highly prominent Egyptians who got where they are through the Mubarak regime are becoming critical of the inevitability of a Mubarak dynasty. And it suggests ElBaradei is willing to tap into the establishment as well as the opposition.
It would be interesting to know what the senior officer corps thinks of all this. Impossible to find out, but interesting to know.