x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

ElBaradei has no chance at presidency

"If Mohammed ElBaradei, the former secretary general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, were to run for office in the 2011 presidential elections in Egypt and win, the first thing he would do is abolish the emergency law; after that, one can easily imagine a series of reforms that would change the face of Egypt as we know it," wrote Hassan Younis in the comment pages of the Qatari newspaper Al Watan.

"If Mohammed ElBaradei, the former secretary general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, were to run for office in the 2011 presidential elections in Egypt and win, the first thing he would do is abolish the emergency law; after that, one can easily imagine a series of reforms that would change the face of Egypt as we know it," wrote Hassan Younis in the comment pages of the Qatari newspaper Al Watan.

But Mr ElBaradei will not be able to run for presidency in the first place, let alone become the president. By virtue of the constitutional amendment that was introduced in 2005, every presidential candidate must garner the support of 250 elected members of representative councils, at least 65 of which must be members of parliament and 25 members of the consultative council. "Securing such support will not only be difficult, but practically impossible for Mr ElBaradei due to the hegemony of the ruling party."

That is why Mr ElBaradei has set as a precondition for his candidacy that all eligible Egyptians be equally entitled to run for president apart from partisan and personal considerations. "Mr ElBaradei's chances thus look infinitesimal, which sends us back to the more concrete question: will it be Gamal Mubarak [the current president's son] or Omar Suleiman [Egypt's intelligence chief]?"

Despite the political stagnation that many observers of Palestinian politics are quick to point out, one can still claim that the Palestinian cause may be suffering labour pains only to give birth to something new, commented Saleh al Qallab, a columnist at the pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al Awsat. Israel is having to contend with a growing internal schizm between two opposed blocs. "One camp rejects the idea of an independent Palestinian state, while a more realistic camp that considers that swimming against the tide cannot go on forever, and that time has come to deal with developments in the Middle East on the basis of facts not illusions or ancient Jewish mythology."

While Israel is steadily isolated from the international community due to the continuous frustration of its friends, the Palestinian leadership, spearheaded by Mahmoud Abbas, is highly regarded on the international scene. The economic and security achievements of the Palestinian government in the West Bank have proven to everyone, including many Israelis, that the Palestinians deserve their own state. "It is, indeed, a real opportunity. It just remains for Hamas to make the interests of the Palestinian people their priority and to quit its foreign allegiances."

Starting off as a man of the opposition, then becoming the leader of the majority in parliament and the prime minister of the recently formed Lebanese national government, Saad Hariri, the son of the prominent martyr of Lebanese politics, Rafik Hariri, can be said to have caused a major change in the political configuration of Lebanon, commented Waleed Noueyhad, the managing editor of the Bahraini newspaper Al Wasat.

Still, there are many challenges awaiting the new premier. They will force Mr Hariri to walk the fine and sensitive line of statesmanship and the commitments of a martyr's son. "The coming weeks will bring a clearer picture of how these two may overlap or come in conflict with each other when the Special Tribunal on Lebanon resumes its work on the assassination of Rafik Hariri and other crimes that have been committed in Lebanon from 2004 to 2009."

The question of the international tribunal, which is being glossed over in routine political speeches, cannot be dissociated from eventual political repercussions on local and regional levels. And the consolidation of the Lebanese government will definitely be conditional upon the findings of the international tribunal as its conclusions will certainly have an impact, politically and psychologically, on the new cabinet's coalition.

"'Your jar won't be safe every time you toss it upward.' This is a well-known Arabic axiom that may not have its equivalent in the Farsi culture," wrote Waheed Abdul Majeed in the opinion section of the Emirati daily Al Ittihad. Iran's attitude towards the Vienna agreement, which was proposed by the International Atomic Energy Agency to solve the issue of Iran's uranium project, shows that Iran actually believes that its jar will always be safe no matter how often it is thrown into the air.

Iran's sense of overconfidence when its position calls for serious concern reflects the extent to which Tehran is failing to properly appraise its situation. "The clues surrounding Iran's nuclear programme point to consequences that may go beyond the adoption of sanctions against it. Whereas Russia and China are still not convinced of the necessity to resort to the sanctions option right away, there have been recent changes in their respective positions that render this option feasible in a matter of weeks."

Iran may have gotten used to these sessions of stressful arm wrestling, but the Vienna agreement is the most flexible offer Tehran has received since the beginning of its nuclear crisis with the West. * Digest compiled by Achraf A ElBahi aelbahi@thenational.ae