A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Monday, May 16, 2011

And the Winner is . . . Someone Who Wasn't Running

Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil ElAraby has been elected the new Secretary-General of the Arab League, which is interesting since, until just before the vote, he hadn't been a candidate. By tradition, the Secretary-General comes from the host country, which means all have been Egyptian, except for one Tunisian when the League was headquartered in Tunis after Egypt's expulsion due to its peace with Israel. But Egypt's candidate this time, Mustafa al-Fiqi, was seen as a symbol of the old regime, and many Egyptians opposed the nomination. Qatar fielded a rival candidate, but at the eleventh hour, Egypt announced that Fiqi was withdrawing and that ElAraby would be its candidate; the Qatari withdrew and the deal was done.

ElAraby is a former diplomat with a distinguished career and widely admired in the region; he has also shown a new emphasis in his few weeks as Foreign Minister, being more critical of Israel and seeking openings with Iran.

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