Amr Moussa urging people to calm down, and as always trying to have it both ways. One of the results of the parliamentary elections, I think, will be to push skeptical secularists towards Moussa as a presidential candidate — despite his "feloolism".
It's just been announced, unsurprisingly, that Amr Moussa intends to run for the Egyptian presidency when elections take place, most probably late this year. In many respects, Moussa is well-positioned to win: he's the best-known of the slate of names that has been popping up of late, with a reputation for straight-talking and toughness towards Israel from his days as Egypt's foreign minister. Since the rumor was that Mubarak kicked him upstairs to Secretary-General of the Arab League because he was getting too popular, there is an impression that he was not close to the former president. He has gravitas, since he's been seen powowing with world leaders for two decades now, and even a certain macho concept of manliness that politicians like John McCain like to strut about — the equivalent of being seen as "tough" in the American context. It's something others, such as Mohammed ElBaradei, don't have.
Unfortunately, his election to the presidency would be a great disapointment for the many Egyptians who want serious change.
The question to ask is, what exactly does Amr Moussa represent? Whose party is he a candidate for? I would suggest the following:
- A candidate that serves the interests of the Armed Forces, in that Moussa is a career apparatchik with no particular track record as a democrat or someone willing to stand up to the military.
- A candidate that would generally satisfy much of the Egyptian elite, in that — again because he's an apparatchik — he's accustomed to the way power is brokered among this elite. Some might want someone with stronger neo-liberal credentials, but that game is up for a few years anyway.
- A candidate that will worry some in Israel, but will generally preserve the status quo in the Camp David framework and work well with whoever is in power in Tel Aviv, except perhaps Avigdor Lieberman (but who could work with him anyway?)
- A candidate that will please nationalist sentiment in Egypt but generally not change the rapport with Washington.
- A candidate who will make other Arab regimes, most notably Saudi Arabia, much reassured about post-January 25 Egypt, its role in the region, and the challenge it poses to the al-Sauds.
Amr Moussa represents the past. He's appealing because he's a known quantity at an uncertain time. And he's argument number one for why you need alternatives to get their names and faces known, because right now, the only person known to most Egyptians and seen as presidentiable is Moussa. And that's a scary fact.
✪ Frontlines: Who will be the next leader of Egypt? | Front Lines - the week that was | Jerusalem Post | Funny how much traction Amr Moussa's comments have made in Israel, where they remember vividly his criticism of Israel.
✪ Is this the man to follow Mubarak as Egypt's next president? | World news | guardian.co.uk | On Amr Moussa.
✪ Powerful Islamic movement sees leadership struggle | On MB's woes.
✪ War and Peace | New blog from Rob of Arabic Media Shack, focusing on war, history and strategy.
✪ Lesson Unlearned | Foreign Policy | Nir Rosen says the 1983 attacks on Us Marines in Beirut was the fault of senior Reagan officials who intervened in Lebanon's civil war on the side of Christian militias.
✪ A Witness In Palestine | Anna Baltzer, Jewish-American pro-peace activist.
✪ A search engine with a mind on settlements | Antony Loewenstein | I'm switching to Bing, and I hate Microsoft: "Jewish Billionaire, Sergey Brin, one of the founders of Google, donated $1 million to the so-called Hebrew national Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS) which heavily encourages Jews around the world to immigrate to Israel and the United States. The organization is one of the biggest supporters of illegal Jewish settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories."
✪ In Afghan Village, French Outreach Yields an Ambush - WSJ.com | On French Foreign legion in Afghanistan: "Some Legionnaires, like a pensive Italian art history graduate, had enlisted for adventure. Others, like a thin Estonian, signed up to escape potentially lethal problems at home. The Legion wipes out minor criminal records and provides new identities and a French passport in exchange for a five-year contract. "Believe me, I feel safer here in Afghanistan," the Estonian said."
✪ Alaa Al-Aswany: When women are sinners in the eyes of extremists - Commentators, Opinion - The Independent | On Somalia and extremism, among other things.
✪ BBC NEWS | Technology | Egypt seeks ethical mobile users | Code says "don't annoy people by having loud conversations", "choose non-annoying ringtone", etc. Akhiran! Wonder if it says, "Don't sit at qahwa trying different ringtones for an hour" or "Answer phone quickly or put it on silent rather than stare at it for 10 rings".
✪ Squaring the circle and erasing the margins | Good commentary on the recent J Street conference.
✪ YouTube - لقاء اليوم - ريتشارد غولدستون | Khaled Daoud interviews Richard Goldstone on al-Jazeera.
✪ Lebanon: Israel arranged Katyusha fire to keep tensions high - Haaretz - Israel News | Suleiman was praised by West before, will he be listened to now: "Lebanese President Michel Suleiman on Thursday suggested that Israel had arranged for collaborators in his country to fire Katyusha rockets at the Galilee earlier this week, in a bid to keep tensions high in the area."
✪ 'Israel's Self-Described Greatest Concern' - Jeffrey Goldberg | More poisonous Jeffrey Goldberg: anti-Zionist Jews are not real jews, they're anti-Zionists with Jewish parents; the Leveretts are apologists for Tehran. No sense of irony here about Golberg's sycophancy towards Bibi Netanyahu here.
✪ West Bank land belongs to Jews, says Israeli army judge | These people are insane: ""But over the past quarter of a century, the Israeli army lawyer and then military judge at the forefront of arguably the most significant battle in the occupied West Bank – the confiscation of Palestinian land for the construction of Jewish settlements – has come to see himself as in service of a higher duty. In an unusually frank interview, which offers insights into the melding of religion, politics and law that underpins land seizures in the occupied territories, Agassi has laid out his belief that Israel has a biblical claim to territory beyond its borders and that he, even as an immigrant, has a right to live on it when those born there do not. `When we [Israelis] say that this is a political conflict, then we lose the battle,` he told the Guardian, adding that it should be remembered that the ancient land of Israel is `given to us by the Bible, not by some United Nations`.
✪ Tens of Thousands of Palestinian Children at Risk of Forced Displacement in OPT | "Whilst most attention has focused on home demolitions and community evictions, new research by the children`s charity Save The Children has revealed intolerable living conditions are driving families to abandon their land and homes, even though most will be worse off once they do so."
✪ Report: Israeli cafe boycotts Turkish coffee amid tensions | Because Turkey's cancellation of joint military exercises with Israel... hilarious.
✪ Can Egypt protect its Copts? | Khaled Diab | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk | On growing sectarian tensions, Hassan and Morqos, etc.
✪ Al-Ahram Weekly | Features | Time to give back | "According to economist Abdel-Khaleq Farouk, Egyptian business people spent more than an estimated LE300 million in 2008 on what he described as "publicising their provocative and socially irresponsible lifestyles," with money spent by business people on social programmes not exceeding LE50 million per year."
✪ Arab League says US donations used to finance settlements - Yahoo! News | This should be pursued much more aggressively.
✪ Al-Ahram Weekly | Front Page | Obituary: A beautiful mind Mohamed El-Sayed Said (1950-2009) | Obit of the late Egyptian scholar, leftist and founding Kifaya member.
✪ Khalil Bendib interviews Shlomo Sand « P U L S E | Author of "The Invention of the Jewish People."
✪ Orascom Is Building Hotel Of Doom | In North Korea...