ElBaradei Emerges As Leading Opposition Figure in Egypt Protests


CAIRO — The Egyptian military reinforced parts of the capital on Sunday with tanks, jets and helicopters as tens of thousands of protesters flooded central Cairo for the sixth day, defying yet again government orders of a nationwide curfew. The uprising, which began as a spontaneous grass-roots movement, appeared to coalesce, at least for the moment, as the largest opposition group, the Muslim Brotherhood, threw its support behind a leading opposition figure, the Nobel laureate Mohamed ElBaradei, to negotiate on behalf of the protesters.

Mr. ElBaradei arrived in Liberation Square, the center of the protests, shortly after nightfall and addressed the crowd through a bullhorn. “We are beginning a new era in Egypt,” he said. “What we have begun cannot be reversed. “We have a key demand: for Mubarak to step down and to start a new era.”

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    Interesting, (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by andgarden on Sun Jan 30, 2011 at 01:44:05 PM EST
    because I've read that he has about as much chance of being a powerful political figure in Egypt as Chalabi had in Iraq (though I wouldn't take the comparison any further than that).

    Egypt does not need a strongman (none / 0) (#4)
    by Politalkix on Sun Jan 30, 2011 at 02:03:19 PM EST
    they need a leader who cares about the democratic process at this time. Once the democratic process is in place, Egypt will find the best leader for themselves.

    To be frank, (none / 0) (#5)
    by andgarden on Sun Jan 30, 2011 at 02:13:07 PM EST
    I am rather concerned about the nature of the individual(s) Egypt might choose through a democratic process.

    That said, I support their right to hold a free and fair election.


    So am I, but otoh (none / 0) (#6)
    by brodie on Sun Jan 30, 2011 at 02:23:02 PM EST
    I'm concerned about the nature of the person the US might choose in a democratic process in 2012.  And this is relatively moderate Egypt after all, a place where even the formerly scary MusBros have renounced violence.

    I say let this revolution play out, bring in El Baradei for an interim period until the fall elections, then let the process of democracy play out.


    I'l ask you first, then google. Where and (none / 0) (#15)
    by oculus on Sun Jan 30, 2011 at 03:56:20 PM EST
    when did the Muslim Brotherhood "renounce violence"?

    Must have been (5.00 / 1) (#19)
    by brodie on Sun Jan 30, 2011 at 08:55:22 PM EST
    something someone here manning the weekend desk, posting while switching between CNN's coverage and Msnbc's weekend Prison Doc Bloc must have overheard, similar to a few mitigating items found at this popular first-glance site.  Elsewhere today the piece by this academic observer also reports some current moderate attitudes by the MusBros, or at least saying some moderate things in this overheated political environment.

    But I (or whoever here was responsible for that last less than 100% airtight post) wasn't exactly pushing the MusBros to become Egypt's next rulers.  Just saying they might not be Al Qaeda, or so some have suggested.

    Me, not exactly a religious adherent myself, I'd much prefer they not be a part of any post-Mubarak ruling coalition.  But the reality is they are a non-trivial part of the current Egyptian political situation, and likely will have some role to play going forward.


    General opinion seems to be (none / 0) (#22)
    by gyrfalcon on Sun Jan 30, 2011 at 10:09:31 PM EST
    that they would get something like 25 to 30 percent of parliamentary seats if there were free elections.  Egypt is not a hotbed of Islamist sentiment.  It's overwhelmingly secular, despite Islam being the "official" religion.

    Mubarak's government ruled them (none / 0) (#25)
    by oculus on Sun Jan 30, 2011 at 10:47:40 PM EST
    an illegal group.  Let's see what happens though.

    Overwhelming, I'm tempted to say (5.00 / 1) (#21)
    by gyrfalcon on Sun Jan 30, 2011 at 10:08:19 PM EST
    unanimous, opinion of everybody I've heard who actually knows anything about Egypt.  They're still Islamists, but they no longer believe violence and terror are useful, apparently.

    Mubarak, however, has been pumping up the threat of the MB for decades now, both to the U.S. and to the Egyptian people.


    They renounced violence... (none / 0) (#20)
    by desertswine on Sun Jan 30, 2011 at 08:58:32 PM EST
    NYT represents the US governments interests (none / 0) (#2)
    by Andreas on Sun Jan 30, 2011 at 02:02:08 PM EST
    That the NYT tries to help the US government by propaganda for El Baradei is no surprise. A day ago El Baradei has stated his "respect" for the torturer Suleiman. The Muslim Brotherhood is an anti-revolutionary political tendency which was and is opposed to the current uprising. This unity between the government organ NYT, El Baradei and the Muslim Brotherhood was to be expected.

    My sense is that Mohamed El-Baradei (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by KeysDan on Sun Jan 30, 2011 at 02:33:52 PM EST
    is serving a constructive role at this juncture.  His international reputation helps to maintain the credulous face of the protests and may aid in thwarting attempts to convert the uprising into one of roving bands of looters and, ultimately, into "insurgents". Dr. El-Baradei does not enjoy universal acclaim by those in Washington, especially, the neocons who will never forgive him for his pesky challenge of the foundation  (at least one of them) for the Iraq war (Saddam's WMD) and his position on the imminent production of nuclear weapons by Iran.

    I read that and other quotes (none / 0) (#7)
    by Towanda on Sun Jan 30, 2011 at 02:30:46 PM EST
    and info on El Baradei that made me wonder why he is hailed here as the obvious next president.  Your note re the NYT explains it.  Thanks.

    While I assume the (none / 0) (#3)
    by KeysDan on Sun Jan 30, 2011 at 02:03:01 PM EST
    diplomatic back channels are pretty busy, a public "suggestion" by Secretary Clinton that the timing is ripe for a transition without Mubarak is a required follow-up to the public statements made so far.   A brief interim government (with a stated timeline) with VP  Omar Suleiman assuming the presidency might be enough to get Mubarak out with his dignity and our secrets in tact. Of course, the critical companion would be announcement of elections in very short order.

    Possible, and your last (none / 0) (#10)
    by brodie on Sun Jan 30, 2011 at 02:42:17 PM EST
    sentence is key, I think.  The current schedule is for elections in the fall, but that seems a mighty long time given the current impatient climate for people to wait while a hand-picked Mubarak successor is in power.

    Elections for 2-3 months from a turnover to Suleiman might be more realistic.

    Though my preference would be to somehow have El Baradei assume the presidency asap, then go with the fall elections as previously planned.


    Putin as second in comment=Sulieman? (5.00 / 1) (#16)
    by oculus on Sun Jan 30, 2011 at 03:58:36 PM EST
    Were I an Egyptian citizen protesting today, I wouldn't buy Sulieman being Pres. while an election is taking place.  Mubarak is an "elected" President.

    I like your idea, but (none / 0) (#12)
    by KeysDan on Sun Jan 30, 2011 at 02:53:17 PM EST
    am having difficulty with the "somehow have El-Baradei assume the presidency".   A short transition with Suleiman might make all sides fifty percent happy and provide some semblance of stability until the good people of Egypt can elect a new president.  If El-Baradei  stands for and wins the election (and he has a good chance what with his opposition role at present), it would be much more solid.

    Well, this is a revolution (none / 0) (#14)
    by brodie on Sun Jan 30, 2011 at 03:30:00 PM EST
    so by definition things might not proceed according to orderly fashion, by the book.  However there was a report earlier that a handful of the major dissident groups agreed to have El Baradei speak on their behalf in the main square tonight.  That's at least some indication that he enjoys potential broad-based support.  Negotiations with this dissident coalition led by Baradei, and the current govt as to peacefully handing over power might not be too farfetched to consider.

    As for Suleiman as president in the interim, again one concern would be that a govt seen as repressive and anti-democratic and suspiciously "popular" in previous elections, would be in power as another election is underway.  Would people be willing to accept that, or does the old guard need to leave entirely in order to ensure the public would accept election results?


    This Great Game analysis is SO (none / 0) (#13)
    by seabos84 on Sun Jan 30, 2011 at 02:58:39 PM EST
    captivating !!

    Imagine that those stupid peeee-on people should have more impact than the REAL heavy weights in the salons of Paris, London, Georgetown, Moscow ...!!

    WHAT do those uneducated masses know about living like serfs and doormats!?

    History - By The Great Men, For The Great Men, Of The Great Men.

    (oops ... should I substitute "Government" for "History" ??? )



    Isn't the easy way out a vote? (none / 0) (#9)
    by waldenpond on Sun Jan 30, 2011 at 02:38:44 PM EST
    Is it just me, or would it be beneficial to power to allow a vote?  They could implement a system like the US where people are pacified by being able to vote on minor issues at a local level but the power system in place at a federal level is completely controlled by the corporations and they get away with the pretense handing out crumbs to their people while billions (even trillions) are being stolen?

    The Chamber is already entrenched in Egypt and very few people control the majority of the GDP.  Seems they already have corporate control of the country and will control the outcome (maybe not the first vote, but certainly the second?)  the people could be easily appeased by allowing a vote.

    It may not work (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by Politalkix on Sun Jan 30, 2011 at 02:51:32 PM EST
    "Socialism" is not such a bad word in a country like Egypt as it is in the United States.  

    Indeed (none / 0) (#23)
    by gyrfalcon on Sun Jan 30, 2011 at 10:20:05 PM EST
    And it's certainly not clear to me that the Egyptian people are demonstrating and risking their lives for "elections," but rather for rulers who aren't thuggish and corrupt and are willing and able to at least try to do something about the terrible poverty.

    There's a reason this is happening in Egypt but not much in Jordan.

    I think we Westerners, and Americans particularly, are more wedded to the idea of elections as the be-all and end-all of civil society than much of the rest of the world is.


    Al Jazeera English (none / 0) (#17)
    by Coral on Sun Jan 30, 2011 at 06:25:56 PM EST
    has been running continuous live streaming on the situation in Egypt. Their reporters on the ground, their camera on the central square where the protests are centered, plus reports from Alexandria, Sudan and elsewhere are amazing.

    ElBaradei has the backing of many opposition groups to be a spokesman and negotiator for what appears at the moment to be a grassroots uprising that is focused on forcing Mubarak to step down. He's been interviewed several times on Al Jazeera. I think he makes a credible interim figure who may be able to help forge a path forward.

    Mubarak has to go.

    FWIW (5.00 / 1) (#24)
    by gyrfalcon on Sun Jan 30, 2011 at 10:23:15 PM EST
    So has CNN had from the beginning.  Ben Wedeman and his family live in Cairo, Nic Robertson has been on the ground and with the protesters from the beginning, and various of their other foreign correspondents who've just arrived have considerable experience there.

    I should also point out that NBC's Richard Engel lived in a ramshackle apartment in Cairo for four years after college.

    No doubt AJ is terrific on this, but CNN and to a lesser extent NBC aren't chopped liver on the story.


    Maybe I spoke too soon (none / 0) (#18)
    by andgarden on Sun Jan 30, 2011 at 08:00:36 PM EST
    Reports are that ElBaradei is a consensus pick. And he's putting distance between himself an the U.S. That's politically wise.

    I was also of the understanding (none / 0) (#26)
    by CST on Mon Jan 31, 2011 at 10:25:30 AM EST
    that he is seen in Egypt as a figure of the west.  That being said, he has had his distancing moments as well, so we shall see if they embrace him or not.

    I think, for the west, he is the best possible solution to this.  Not sure about Egypt.