News / Middle East

    Former Egyptian Diplomat ElBaradei Becomes Face of Mubarak Opposition

    Egyptian Nobel Peace laureate and democracy advocate Mohamed ElBaradei addresses the crowd at Tahrir Square in Cairo, Jan 30, 2011
    Egyptian Nobel Peace laureate and democracy advocate Mohamed ElBaradei addresses the crowd at Tahrir Square in Cairo, Jan 30, 2011

    Multimedia

    Former Egyptian diplomat Mohamed ElBaradei has emerged as a prominent voice of the opposition to President Hosni Mubarak.

    Mohamed ElBaradei is best known as having been chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the United Nations' nuclear watchdog, a position he held from 1997 to 2009.

    Fawaz Gerges, from the London School of Economics, says there was a great deal of tension between American officials and ElBaradei during that period, especially over Iran's presumed nuclear weapons program.

    "American officials believed that he [ElBaradei] was reluctant to basically accept certain premises about the Iranian nuclear project, that he basically was quite very tolerant towards some of the Iranian statements and public assertions and he was not as forthcoming as his predecessor [Hans Blix of Sweden]," said Gerges.  "So the relationship between ElBaradei and American foreign policy was very tense and the Americans, in fact, tried to undermine his candidacy."

    Related video report by Carolyn Presutti

    Eventually the United States backed him for a third term.  And in 2005, ElBaradei and the IAEA were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts to prevent nuclear proliferation.

    Now ElBaradei has emerged as a leading voice of the opposition to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

    But as Emad Shahin, from the University of Notre Dame says, some Egyptians consider the former diplomat an outsider, someone who has spent 30 years away from Egypt and has just recently returned to his homeland.

    "This has deprived him of deep roots in the Egyptian society, a power base, if you wish - like attachments, affiliations say with institutions, political parties, popular organizations and so forth," noted Shahin.  "Of course if you are abroad for 30 years, you lose your roots. It also subjects him to criticism that he is very elitist; he spent most of his life in New York and Vienna; he does not belong to the poor, deprived masses of the Egyptian population."

    On the other hand, Shahin says, spending so much time abroad has its positive side.

    "The good side is that he's coming from outside the system, he has not been tainted by this corrupt system, he hasn't participated in any official [Egyptian] position for the past 30 years and he is independent with a high profile as a diplomat, as an executive of one of the important international organizations," added Shahin.  "So that also gives him credibility - a lot of credibility."

    Credibility, say analysts, that has been bolstered by his independent stance as IAEA director vis-à-vis the United States.

    Shahin says ElBaradei also has a populist appeal.  

    "You can easily associate with him," said Shahin.  "He's not really charismatic; he's not eloquent; he is not very articulate, but I think the impression that he gives - one has to be very fair about this - is that he's genuine."

    Analysts say ElBaradei, seen as a moderate politically, has become a spokesman for an opposition front made up of various groups including nationalists, centrists, left-leaning parties and the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's oldest and largest Islamist organization.

    "Mohamed ElBaradei has gone out of his way to co-opt the Muslim Brotherhood," explained Gerges.  "He visited their headquarters. He promised to work with the Brotherhood in order to legalize the party. As you know, the Muslim Brotherhood is a banned political and social movement in Egypt. And ElBaradei has made some very positive statements about trying to integrate the Muslim Brotherhood into the social fabric of Egypt."

    Gerges says ElBaradei is the most important public face of the opposition.

    "He is a unifying figure," added Gerges.  "There is no other unifying figure within the opposition. Unlike the Islamic revolution in Iran in the late 1970s, there is no Ayatollah Khomeini, no cleric or mullah who has the same, you might say, status and prominence in Egypt as Mohamed ElBaradei does."

    But while ElBaradei is currently the face of the opposition to Hosni Mubarak, some analysts - including Aaron David Miller from the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars - urge prudence.

    "No-one right now should bank on any single individual becoming a permanent fixture in Egyptian politics," said Miller.  "At best, people should argue these are transitional figures, because we simply don't know enough. We don't know enough to predict with any level of certainty who or what will emerge in Egypt""

    In Miller's words:  "I would urge caution before we try to identify the new guy on the white horse."

     

    NEW: Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
    and discuss them on our Facebook page.

    You May Like

    Video Rubio Looks to Surge in New Hampshire

    Republican presidential candidate has moved into second place in several recent surveys and appears to be gaining ground on longtime frontrunner Donald Trump

    UN Calls for Global Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

    Recent UNICEF report finds at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in 30 countries

    UN Pilots New Peace Approach in CAR

    Approach launched in northern town of Kaga Bandoro, where former combatants of mainly Muslim Seleka armed group and Christian and animist anti-Balaka movement are being paid to do community work

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.