After disappearing from the public eye for some time, Egyptian politician Mohamed ElBaradei has returned to the fore to bring the Arab public news of a new Turkish era, an Iranian renaissance and a new “Arab Spring”.
ElBaradei, a former Egyptian vice-president, has also called on Arab countries to form a regional security system capable of urgently addressing complex relations with Turkey and Iran.
In an article titled “The Arab world: Time for a reset?” ElBaradei said that dialogue with Turkey and Iran is “an issue that cannot be postponed”.
ElBaradei, who is also the former director of the International Atomic Energy Agency, made these proposals and more in the article he wrote for Al-Jazeera.
ElBaradei’s contribution was later shared by Qatari and Muslim Brotherhood websites.
Observers linked ElBaradei’s sudden reappearance with the arrival of a new U.S. administration headed by Democratic President Joe Biden. The U.S. administration has shown a significant interest in the human rights file, especially in Egypt, and a desire to reach an agreement with Iran to return to the nuclear accord.
ElBaradei’s reappearance on Qatari media platforms showed a predisposition to breathe new life into the assertions of the first wave of the so-called Arab Spring, with some amendments to keep pace with changing dynamics in the Arab region.
The timing and the platform in which the article was published could widen the existing rift between Cairo and Doha.
In recent months, Cairo has been watching Doha’s actions as well as media material circulated by Qataris, amid a solid conviction that Qatar is not concerned with the conclusions of the reconciliation agreement with Egypt.
For this reason, Egyptians are increasingly convinced that Qataris will not cease their aggression through providing refuge to Cairo’s staunch political opponents and giving them platforms to disseminate their ideas.
With his new article, ElBaradei apparently wanted to tap into the tensions that both Turkey and Iran have with many countries in the Arab region.
Qatar, however, is one of the few Arab states that maintain good relations with Ankara and Tehran.
Mostafa Kamel al-Sayyid, a professor of political science at the American University in Cairo, said that ElBaradei “has not completely been absent from the public eye over the past years as he was occasionally commenting on Twitter”.
Sayyid added in a statement to The Arab Weekly that “the arrival of a new U.S. administration encouraged ElBaradei to reappear and call for dialogue with Turkey and Iran”.
“The new U.S. administration is adopting an approach based on negotiation with major powers in the world and the Middle East and such an approach encourages some people to make proposals that go in line with the currents trends that dominate the international political scene,” Sayyid explained.
However, former Egyptian Assistant Foreign Minister Hassan Haridi, said that ElBaradei’s call “will not be taken seriously, because the two countries he mentioned [Turkey and Iran] are currently occupying Arab lands, using military force against peoples, and recruiting extremist groups from some countries to pursue their ambitions”.
“Turkey and Iran have maintained their hostile policies against the Arab states, with serious crimes in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen and Libya. There is no hope for dialogue with the two countries, especially that ElBaradei failed to specify the bases for initiating dialogue,” Haridi added in a statement to The Arab Weekly.
ElBaradei’s proposal, experts argue, is unrealistic and vague, but ultimately consistent with the reasoning of the Muslim Brotherhood. Experts note that the Muslim Brothers were some of the only ones to welcome ElBaradei’s appeal for dialogue with Ankara and Tehran as such an appeal justifies the contacts the Islamist group’s leaders entertain with the two countries.
ElBaradei failed to answer key questions: Where has he been hiding since his departure from Egypt about seven years ago? Why did he disappear? What did he do when he was vice-president of Egypt during the transitional period that followed the fall of the Muslim Brotherhood?
ElBaradei also did not explain his actions before that period, when anger was boiling against the former regime of late President Hosni Mubarak. At that time, ElBaradei waited for the storm to end and for protests to yield a proper ground for change before emerging and trying to play a role.
However, ElBaradei, failed to bring change when young Egyptians counted on him in their struggle for freedoms in the country. Experts argue that the man has often reappeared only to later disappear, a cycle that indicates a desire to attract attention.
Observers in Cairo called on the former Egyptian vice-president to thoroughly review his stances and reassess the role he played during the period of the so-called Arab Spring. The observers also recalled the damage the events caused at the time to Arab countries, bringing some of them to the brink of collapse.
(This article originally appeared in the Arab Weekly is reprinted with permission.)