A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Friday, December 4, 2009

ElBaradei States Conditions for Running for President

Mohamed ElBaradei (that's how he spells it so I don't try to correct him), the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency until just this week, has been one of the folks suggested (by the Wafd Party and others) as a possible candidate for President of Egypt in the event a really competitive election is held in 2011 (and pigs learn to fly). Now that he has stepped down at the IAEA, he's expressing his conditions for running (link is in Arabic): his conditions include an independent national committee to oversee the elections, absolute judicial supervision of the vote, and international observers.

And rainbow-colored unicorns in the inaugural parade, I suspect. Okay, Mubarak senior and junior will surely agree to all that. No problem there. What else? Sorry if I'm so cynical, but has ElBaradei 1) just been out of the country too long, 2) let the whole idea go to his head, or 3) been celebrating getting free of the Iran nuclear issue a little too hard? (The new IAEA guy is Japanese, I think.)

For all I know, ElBaradei might make a great President of Egypt. So might dozens of other people of some prominence, accomplishment, and talent. The country has one of the best-educated and most cosmopolitan and intelligent professional elites in the Arab world, and it might be interesting to see what would happen if one of them actually had power someday. But it is hard for me to conceive of a scenario under which this could happen. And instead of a modest reticence, he's stating conditions? It's rather as if I said, Okay, I'll reluctantly become President of the United States if you meet all the following conditions. Well, gosh, I think that would induce a groundswell of complete indifference. I suspect ElBaradei's will as well, except in a few salons, professional syndicates, and coffeehouses in central Cairo and Zamalek. I'd be delighted to be proved wrong. But I don't think I will be.

While I'm on the Egyptian Presidential beat, some Egyptian bloggers have noted that after ‘Ala' Mubarak (Gamal's older but less prominent brother) did all those phone-ins to TV talk shows ramping up the debate over the Algeria-Egypt squabble, he suddenly stopped doing so and hasn't made a public pronouncement for a while. One rumor: Gamal's jealous. ‘Ala' actually hit a nerve with the public, which Gamal has apparently not had much success at doing. Make of that what you will: second-hand coffeehouse gossip.


LJ Marczak said...

I believe the recent culling of the swine herd in Egypt may place another obstacle in the path of pigs learning to fly unless your reference is to the spiritual rather than the physical world.

Michael Collins Dunn said...

Given the absence of pigs in Egypt, the likelihood of pigs flying before 2011 is, as you note, even less likely. Insufficient population sample for a genetic breakthrough, I suspect.

But then, I wasn't expecting it to happen anyway.

Though as a later post notes, the official media is coming down on ElBaradei: maybe he worries them a little.