Who Is Mohamed ElBaradei?
Posted by jonathanfryer on Sunday, 30th January, 2011
Though this week’s street protests in Egypt have conveyed a clear message, namely that the Egyptian people want President Hosni Mubarak to stand down, the movement has lacked a clear leader around whom it can coalesce. The name that has nonetheless been in the frame for some time has been Mohamed ElBaradei, the 68-year-old former head of the International Atomic Agency (IAEA), who has spent much of his professional life abroad, including a stint as part of Egypt’s mission to the United Nations in New York. He attracted some criticism earlier in the week for not stepping up forcefully as a potential replacement for Mubarak, and in fact only returning to Egypt very late in the process of what one can now call a Revolution, but it woud seem that he has been busy behind the scenes, building a wide coalition of opposition forces. That coalition includes more than a dozen political parties (though obviously not the ruling NDP) and, significantly, the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamic force that is in principle outlawed but in practice plays a significant role in society. The Muslim Brotherhood has endorsed ElBaradei as a spokesman for this new coalition, which could pave the way to his becoming interim President — though for that to happen, Mubarak must stand down. If he wants to escape a worse fate, Mubarak would be well advised to do that as soon as possible, leaving the way open for ElBaradei and a transition to a more open and democratic society which is responsive to the Egyptian people’s real needs.