This is not the man we want running Egypt.
>> Here’s the YouTube clip of my interview with Neil Cavuto on Fox News on Monday
>> We’ve posted a “rapid response” video blog I did on the crises in Egypt and Jordan at www.joshuafund.net.
UPDATED ON TUESDAY: Last week, few Westerners knew the name Mohamed ElBaradei. Today, this calm, genteel-sounding, Nobel laureate has suddenly emerged as the face of the protest movement in Egypt. But who is he really, and is he a force for genuine, positive change? The New York Times reported this morning that U.S. officials are trying to assess this very question.
At first glance, ElBaradei’s credentials suggest he could be a leader the West could support. Born to a middle-class family in Cairo in 1942, ElBaradei was largely educated in the West. After receiving his bachelor’s degree from the University of Cairo, he went on to earn an advanced degree in Switzerland and later a Ph.D. in international law from New York University. He is fluent in English, French, and German, aside from his native Arabic. He lived in the U.S. for some fifteen years, and more recently has resided in Vienna. He has served in various capacities for the Egyptian Foreign Ministry, as a United Nations diplomat, and as a speaker and lecturer in the U.S. and Europe.
However, the closer one looks at ElBaradei’s career and public statements, the more troubling the image becomes. Indeed, three clues tell us the answer is “no,” ElBaradei is not someone we can trust, and certainly not someone we want running Egypt. To the contrary, he is a wolf in sheep’s clothing and we must not let him gain power.
First, Mohamed ElBaradei is an apologist for Iran. As head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency, from 1997 to 2009, the Iranians repeatedly lied to ElBaradei’s face, and he either let them or didn’t know the difference. The Iranians dramatically accelerated their nuclear enrichment program in violation of U.N. resolutions and international law during those 12 years. But ElBaradei never seemed bothered. Iran built three secret nuclear facilities during this time, yet ElBaredei never seemed to notice (until other intelligence agencies called his attention to them). On Monday night, CSPAN ran a presentation ElBaradei made at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard in April. Those who watched it saw him say yet again that he opposes economic sanctions on Iran and even opposes the last case scenario of a preemptive strike against Iran, saying he things “building trust” and more “negotiations” will actually stop Iran from getting the Bomb. Foolish and shortsighted though these positions are, at least he is consistent. ElBaradei has opposed economic sanctions on Iran for quite some time. What’s more, he actually thinks the whole notion of the Iranian nucleaer “threat” is hyped and is neither particularly severe nor urgent. For more on ElBaradei and Iran, consider the following articles:
Second, ElBaredei has demonstrated he is anti-Israel. During his tenure at the IAEA, Iranian leaders publicly and consistently called for the “annihilation” of Israel, denied the Holocaust of six million Jews during World War II, said that the Jewish State was doomed to destruction, that the fall of Israel was “imminent,” as was the coming of the Twelfth Imam which would coincide with the destruction of not just Israel but also the U.S. At the same time, the Iranians feverishly developed their capacities to accomplish the destruction of Israel and our regional allies, including building and deploying ballistic missiles capable of reaching Israel and Europe. Yet in 2009, ElBaradei actually declared that Israel was the greatest threat to the peace and security of the Middle East, not Iran. Moreover, up through 2007, ElBaradei completely missed the fact that the North Koreans were helping Syria build a nuclear reactor and nuclear research facilities in violation of international law, facilities that could have led the Assad regime to build atomic weapons. Yet when Israel took decisive action to neutralize the Syrian threat since the IAEA was doing nothing, ElBaradei condemned Israel, not Syria.
Third, ElBaradei is an apologist for the Muslim Brotherhood. For starters, in recent days the Brotherhood has begun opening supporting ElBaradei and saying that they want to form a “unity” government with him, and he is welcoming their support. What’s more, in an interview on CNN on January 30, 2011, ElBaradei flatly denied that the Muslim Brotherhood is a fundamentalist Islamic organization, claiming that this was “a myth that was sold by the Mubarak regime.” He went on to deny that if the Brotherhood gained control of the Egyptian government they wouldn’t create a Radical Islamic regime that would be similar to what happened in Iran in 1979.
In an interview last week with the German publication Der Spiegel, ElBaradei said: “We should stop demonizing the Muslim Brotherhood,” adding that “they have not committed any acts of violence in five decades. They too want change. If we want democracy and freedom, we have to include them instead of marginalizing them.”
Is he kidding? The Muslim Brotherhood has been one of the most anti-Western, virulently jihadist organizations in the Middle East for decades. They have believed and taught that Islam is the answer, and violent jihad is the way. This was true of its founder Hassan al-Banna. This was true of its intellectual leader Sayyid Qutb in the 1950s and 1960s. This is true of its most famous and deadly disciples, including Osama bin Laden (who was recruited into the Brotherhood by a Syrian high school teacher), and his deputy, Dr. Ayman Al-Zawahiri, an Egyptian national who was also part of the Brotherhood until he joined bin Laden to build al Qaeda as an even more violent and radical Islamist group. It remains true with the Hamas terror movement in Gaza, which is an offshoot of the Egyptian Brotherhood. I document all this in my 2009 non-fiction book, Inside The Revolution.
For ElBaradei to go on worldwide television and publicly deny the Brotherhood is an Islamic fundamentalist group that wants to build an Islamic caliphate along similar lines to the mullahs in Iran suggests that he is either an idiot, or a liar. Personally, I don’t believe he is an idiot. The question is whether the Brotherhood is latching onto ElBaradei’s suddenly stardom, or whether their relationship goes back longer than most realize. Are they using each other for tactical purposes right now, or did ElBaradei choose some time ago to become the kinder, gentler face of a movement that would bring great oppression to the Egyptian people, destroy the U.S.-Egyptian alliance, abrogate the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty, and seek to make Egypt part of some new Islamic caliphate.
Unfortunately, there is not a genuine, sincere and widely recognized and popular leader of the Reform movement in Egypt right now, someone who passionately believes in advancing free markets, free elections and the protection of human rights and the rule of law. There is no one visible in Egypt at the moment who can convincingly take Hosni Mubarak’s place, build on the country’s pro-Western recent heritage, maintain peaceful ties with Israel and robustly oppose the mullahs in Iran and their bloodthirsty quest for an Islamic Revolution and the Islamic Bomb.
Mohammed ElBaradei is definitely not the guy. He is a false prophet in bed with Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood. We must keep looking for a true Reformer. In the meantime, we must do everything in our power to prevent the Radicals from seizing Cairo, and the rest of the Sunni world with it.
Here’s the transcript of the stunning interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria and ElBaradei (or watch this video — this portion begins at 7:12 minutes into the clip):
CNN’s FAREED ZAKARIA: Mohamed, one of the visions that haunts Americans is of the Iranian revolution, where a dictator, pro-American dictator, was replaced by an even worse regime that was even more anti-American and more threatening to the region. People worry about the Muslim Brotherhood. Are you confident that a post-Mubarak Egypt will not give rise to some kind of Islamic fundamentalist force that will undermine the democracy of Egypt?
MOHAMMED ELBARADEI: I’m quite confident of that, Fareed. This is a myth that was sold by the Mubarak regime, that it’s either us, the ruthless dictators, or above them the al Qaeda types. You know, the Muslim Brotherhood has nothing to do with the Iranian model, has nothing to do with extremism, as we have seen it in Afghanistan and other places. The Muslim Brotherhood is a religiously conservative group. They are a minority in Egypt. They are not a majority of the Egyptian people, but they have a lot of credibility because all the other liberal parties have been smothered for 30 years. They are in favor of a federalist state. They are in favor of a wording on the base of constitution that….every Egyptian has the same rights, same obligation, that the state in no way will be a state based on religion. And I have been reaching out to them. We need to include them. They are part of the Egyptian society, as much as the Marxist party here. I think this myth that has been perpetuated and sold by the regime has no – has no iota of reality. As you know, Fareed, I’ve worked with Iranians, I’ve worked here. There is 100 percent difference between the two societies.
ZAKARIA: If there were a democratic government with Muslim Brotherhood participation, do you believe that Egypt would still be at peace with Israel?
ELBARADEI: Of course. I mean, I – again, the whole issue of peace in the Middle East is an issue which everybody – nobody wants to go to war, Fareed.
For more on the dangers posed by the Muslim Brotherhood: