Identity of Egypt’s Next FM Shrouded as Swearing-In Nears
Egyptian press reports indicate that a new foreign minister, whose identity is still unknown, will be sworn in two days after incumbent Amr Moussa becomes the secretary general of the Arab League.
The semi-official daily Al Ahram said that Moussa’s successor would be sworn in by President Hosni Mubarak at the Red Sea resort of Sharm El Sheikh on Wednesday.
The papers quote unnamed diplomatic sources as saying that the candidates include Nabil Fahmi, Egyptian envoy to Washington; his colleague in Paris, Ali Maher; and in Tel Aviv, Mohammad Bassiouni; in addition to the head of the country’s mission to the UN, Ahmad Abul Gheit.
Others speculate that Mubarak’s adviser, Osama Al Baz will take the portfolio.
Meanwhile, the chief of general intelligence, Omar Suleiman, who previously topped the list of candidates, appears to have been counted out, according to the reports.
Speculation about the new foreign minister’s identity has been rampant since Moussa was assigned by the March Arab Summit to succeed his compatriot, Esmat Abdel Meguid, as the Arab League’s head.
The popularity of Moussa, an expert at handling thorny regional issues, has crossed Egypt's frontiers for a long time, says Arabicnews.com.
Moussa, who was born in Cairo in 1936, joined the foreign ministry after earning a BA in law from Cairo University in 1957.
He then followed the traditional career path of diplomats, taking several posts abroad. In 1987, he was appointed Egypt's ambassador to India, and in 1990, he moved to New York to become Egypt's permanent representative to the UN.
Less than one year later, in March 1991, Moussa was appointed as foreign minister to succeed Abdel Meguid, who was then appointed secretary general of the Arab League.
This occurred at the point when the headquarters of the league returned to Cairo from Tunis. The headquarters had been moved to Tunisia in 1979, following the severing of relations between the Arab states and Egypt after it signed the Camp David accord with Israel.
Moussa became foreign minister after Egypt's reconciliation with the Arabs, and just a few months before the launching of the Madrid conference in October 1991.
Since then, Moussa and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak have contributed to drawing up the Palestinian policy towards Israel by advising Palestinian President Yasser Arafat, making Cairo one of the most prominent regional mediators in the peace process.
Moussa's popularity has been such that a popular Egyptian singer, Shabaan Abdel Rehim, composed "Ana Bakrah Israel, Bahib Amr Moussa" (I Hate Israel and Love Amr Moussa). This song has been very popular in Egypt, and several Arab and Western media outlets have labeled it an "embodiment of the mood on the Egyptian street."
In January 1999, while in Tel Aviv, Moussa refused to shake hands with his Israeli counterpart, Ariel Sharon.
The news of Moussa's nomination to head the Arab League came as a surprise to many. Certain independent and opposition commentators had said that the purpose of the appointment was to isolate him from Egyptian policy.
Arab diplomats expect Moussa to energize the his post’s role in the league, and to work to settle inter-Arab differences, especially between Iraq and Kuwait, as well as the Western Sahara dispute between Morocco and Algeria.
Abdul Meguid’s term of office at the Arab League ends on May 15 – Albawaba.com
© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)