Amr Moussa 311.
(photo credit: Associated Press)
NEW YORK – A new alternative to embattled Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is waiting in the wings, say United Nations sources.
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The possible replacement is Amr Moussa, secretary-general of the Arab League. The 74-year old lawyer and diplomat has headed the organization for the past decade.
Previously, Moussa was Egyptian foreign minister and before that a veteran diplomat for Cairo. Moussa is best known for his work as Egyptian ambassador to the UN in supporting president George H.W. Bush’s efforts in removing Saddam Hussein from Kuwait.
Unlike former International Atomic Energy Agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei, Moussa has much better name recognition inside Egypt and enjoys a much better relationship with Mubarak.
Ironically, several months ago, local reports in Cairo stated that Moussa had spoken with Mubarak about a potential presidential candidacy in Egypt’s upcoming elections in September. The talks were considered “exploratory.”
Moussa has been relatively silent since the recent unrest began. At the recently concluded World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Moussa told attendees, “Arabs are angry and frustrated and the name of the game is reform.”
Earlier this month, Moussa brushed off questions about any presidential ambitions, telling reporters, “It is the right of every citizen that has the capacity and efficacy to aspire to any political office that would allow him to contribute to the service of his nation.”
On Monday, Moussa again skirted questions about Egypt’s unrest, simply declaring that Egypt must undergo “a peaceful transition from one era to another.”
Regarding his own future, Moussa would only say, “I am not willing to stand again as secretary-general of the Arab League.”
His current term expires in two months.
Moussa was first elected to head the organization in July 2001. At the time, Egyptian media speculated that Mubarak endorsed Moussa’s move to the Arab League to “eliminate” a possible presidential rival.
Now, UN sources say, Moussa may prove to be the only practical alternative should Mubarak decide to resign.
When questioned, a senior Obama administration refused any opinion on Moussa.
Former US ambassador to the UN John Bolton was also cautious, only commenting, “At least he is better than ElBaradei.”