US Reaches Out to ElBaradei: Who Is Mohamed ElBaradei?
US Reaches Out to Mohamed ElBaradei
US State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley acknowledged via Twitter that the US has reached out to Mohamed ElBaradei as Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's ouster becomes more and more likely.
As anti-Mubarak demonstrations continue, protestors are not putting forward a specific candidate for the Egyptian presidency. However, Mohamed (sometimes spelled Mohammed) ElBaradei has been meeting with the current cabinet with the likely intention of becoming interim President.
Who Is Mohamed ElBaradei?
Mohamed ElBaradei, an Egyptian political dissident, was the Director General of the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency), a UN-backed organization supporting the peaceful development of nuclear technology. ElBaradei and the IAEA shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005. He was vehemently opposed to the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, as well as to Western or Israeli military action against Iran, saying that it would destabilize the Middle East entirely. Opinion is divided on how effective he was as IAEA chief, especially vis a vis Iran.
As protests spread from Tunisia to Egypt, Mohamed ElBaradei did not publicly support the demonstrations, which drew criticism from the anti-Mubarak movement.
ElBaradei left Vienna, Austria returned to Egypt on January 27, after the protests had gathered steam. He made it clear that he was willing to lead a transitional government, saying, ""If [people] want me to lead the transition, I will not let them down."
ElBaradei is known as a secularist.
As part of our public outreach to convey support for orderly transition in #Egypt, Ambassador Scobey spoke today with Mohammed #ElBaradei.
The US gives Egypt $2 billion in aid each year, the majority of which goes to the military. Some of that aid is earmarked for "democracy promotion activites", though the US has long been aware of the Egyptian government's use of torture, censorship, and high levels of corruption. Would a government led by ElBaradei continue to receive that level of aid?
Mohamed ElBaradei has publicly denounced the Gaza blockade, and part of his popularity within Egypt comes from his frequent clashes with the Bush Administration. He is currently cranking up the pressure on the White House to publicly denounce Mubarak's presidency, which Washington will not realistically do, at least not yet. ElBaradei has also called for Israel, Pakistan and India to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Neocons in both the US and Israel do not want Mohamed ElBaradei in control of Egypt.