Mubarak’s former foreign minister to take over as new head of Arab League

Published March 12th, 2016 - 11:00 GMT
A general view shows Arab foreign ministers during a meeting to elect a new secretary general of the Arab League in the Egyptian capital Cairo, on March 10, 2016. (AFP/Khaled Desouki)
A general view shows Arab foreign ministers during a meeting to elect a new secretary general of the Arab League in the Egyptian capital Cairo, on March 10, 2016. (AFP/Khaled Desouki)

Egypt's former foreign minister Ahmed Abul Gheit has been named the new secretary general of the Cairo-based Arab League, in a time when the regional forum faces multiple wars and sectarian divisions, AFP reported.

"The consultations resulted in the nomination of Ahmed Abul Gheit to the post of secretary general," Bahraini Foreign Minister Khaled bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa announced at the end of a ministerial meeting. 

Gheit served as Egypt's foreign minister for seven years under the Mubarak government, until mass protests ousted former President Hosni Mubarak in 2011. 

In a sign of divisions within the League, Qatar has voiced reservations about Gheit, citing his "hostile positions" toward Doha.

At the top of the list of challenges facing the Arab League is the conflict in Syria that has killed over 270,000 people and displaced millions since it began five years ago. 

The conflict in Syria has seen regional rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran backing opposing sides. Additionally, a war rages in Yemen where Iran is backing Houthi rebel forces and a Saudi-led military operation is supporting President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi's government.

Relations between Qatar and Egypt, which has traditionally chosen candidates for the top post of the Arab League, have deteriorated, as Cairo accuses Doha of supporting the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood. 

Other Arab diplomats told AFP that unlike the former chief of the Arab League, fellow Egyptian Amr Mussa, Gheit has taken a softer stance on Israel, pushing to boycott a Qatari-proposed Arab summit to discuss Israeli assaults on Gaza in 2009.

Gheit's candidacy was proposed after the incumbent, Nabil al-Arabi declined a second five-year term as secretary general. He will step down in July.

The secretary general position has traditionally always been held to an Egyptian, with the sole exception being Tunisia's Chedli Klibi.

Gheit will become the Arab League's eighth secretary general since it was founded in 1945.


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