Moussa has emerged from Egypt's revolutionary tumult as the front-runner in the
upcoming presidential election. But for this quintessential establishment man --
he served as foreign minister under Hosni Mubarak and then as secretary-general
of the Arab League -- capturing the top seat in Egyptian politics is fraught
with pitfalls. The revolutionaries on the streets scorn his ties with the
previous regime, and the new kingmakers in Cairo -- the Islamists and the
ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces -- are sure to demand concessions in
return for their support.
easy to walk that line, particularly with all the hot-button issues in Egypt's
future. Here, Moussa tackles them all in an exclusive interview with Foreign Policy: the military's future role in politics, the Egypt-Israel peace treaty, and the upcoming U.S.
presidential election, among others. In his discussion with Adel Abdel Ghafar,
he says that certain aspects of the pact with Israel should be "revisited" and
admits that he would vote to give President Barack Obama another term in office
-- but only because of his misgivings about Obama's Republican challengers.
Foreign Policy: Do you believe the Egyptian Army
should ultimately be under civilian control?
Amr Moussa: A state is a state. It has one
head, not two. It has one legislative institution, not two. It has one
government, not two.
FP: There are several examples of
how countries transitioned from military to civilian rule -- Indonesia, some
Latin American countries, even the Turkish experience is noteworthy. In Egypt,
do you think we will ever get rid of military interference in public life, or will
there always be a presence of the military institution?
AM: A revolution occurred on Jan. 25
that transitioned us from "dictatorial rule"
to democratic rule. This democratic government will not be far away from the
military, as this is the military of Egypt -- an integral and original part of
the Egyptian administration. We do not say that the military will leave -- no,
they will take their own path as one of the integral Egyptian institutions.
shouldn't frame the debate within a provocative context such as you suggested,
with Indonesia and the Latin American countries. We have passed this stage and
are moving forward on a democratic path not ruled by military forces. The
military exists to defend Egypt and is a force for stability in any country; therefore
we have to approach the relationship between the military and the state from a
positive side rather in than a negative, provocative way.
FP: In your view, do the Camp David
Accords [signed between Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime
Minister Menachem Begin in 1978] need adjustment?
AM: First of all, Camp David is not
what is applied now. Camp David ended as a background paper. What governs the
relationship between the two states is the Egyptian-Israeli treaty [signed in
1979]. And I believe that we should adhere to this treaty, as we do with all of
our international commitments and treaties, as long as the other party adheres
to it too.
within a security context in Sinai, the treaty has to be revisited.
Unfortunately, the treaty in its current form has led to the Egyptian
government's inability to enforce the rule of law in Sinai and on the border.
Egypt as a sovereign state should be able to fully secure its borders.
FP: Some people are calling to cut
the natural gas supply to Israel, while others are calling on modifying its
prices. Where do you stand?
AM: We have to modify the prices
according to global prices. This is not only an issue with Israel -- we also
export natural gas to Jordan. It is in our national interest to price the
natural gas according to global prices, and today's prices are much higher than
the prices agreed on.
FP: What do you think of the
Islamist majority in parliament? Does it worry you, as it worries many people
in Egypt who fear religious rule?
AM: Let me tell you, worrying is a
part of politics, especially in such a crucial period like this. However, we
said we will go down the democratic path. Democracy produced the current
parliament. You cannot have democracy and reject its results.
have to decide what would be our "modus operandi" in dealing with these
results, and this is what preoccupies me. On what basis do we deal with the
Islamist forces? We do not live through normal circumstances now that we can
play politics. Therefore I would be looking to cooperate and work with the
FP: As a previous foreign minister,
how do you think Egyptian foreign policy should evolve following the
AM: Egyptian foreign policy
collapsed over the past several years. It has to be rebuilt for it to play its
world will not be led by Turkey or Iran; it has to be led by the Arab countries
themselves. And Egypt, as the largest Arab country, should have a leadership
role in that regard. This will require a new type of leadership in the 21st
century -- you cannot lead if you are not advanced technologically; you cannot
lead if you have no real development program.
FP: The massacre that occurred in
Port Said is currently under investigation, and there are a lot of conspiracy
theories surrounding the events there. What are your initial impressions of
what occurred in Port Said?
AM: What occurred is not normal. A city
has a football team, and its team wins; why does this chaos occur? People
should celebrate after winning, not kill each other.
aside conspiracy theories, what happened was politically motivated and was
intended to create chaos. When 74 people die and hundreds are injured in a
sporting event, it simply doesn't add up. You can call it a conspiracy theory
-- whatever you call it, it is clear that there is a group that encourages
chaos in Egypt.
violent incidents have occurred at the Balloon Theater, Maspero [the
state television building], Mohamed Mahmoud Street, Parliament Street, Port Said -- then the most recent clashes
on Mohammed Mahmoud Street again.
Six incidents, no proper investigation with a clear outcome, no report. This
attitude has to stop. The families demand answers, and we as citizens also
demand to know what happened.
FP: As you note, there were more clashes on Mohamed Mahmoud Street
following the Port Said massacre. How do you suggest that Egypt avoid such
violence in the future?
AM: I believe that the
revolutionaries of Jan. 25 are not the ones responsible for the latest clashes.
There are forces of chaos that have infiltrated the lines of the revolutionary
forces. When I watched on TV people climbing the tax department building and
attempting to put it on fire -- this is not a revolution; this is chaos.
people responsible for chaos should be dealt with using the full force of the
law, and the state has to be present to prosecute them. It is unacceptable that
the state use live rounds and victims fall, but nonetheless the state has to be
forceful in bringing those responsible to justice through legal prosecution.
FP: You mention the revolutionaries.
Are there tensions between yourself and the revolutionary forces?
AM: No. First of all, there are a lot
of different revolutionary forces, and I have relations with several of them.
Perhaps some of them have the point of view that I was a foreign minister during
the previous regime, and so on, but that does not mean that all revolutionary
forces perceive me this way. I have very good relations with several of these
forces and we meet frequently.
FP: What do you think of U.S. President
Barack Obama's first term in office?
AM: In all honesty, I am
FP: If he is reelected, do you
think that this would give the United States another opportunity to show renewed
AM: Our previous experience shows
that there are no differences, or only minor differences, between the first
term of an American president and his second.
from what I know of other candidates, should I be eligible to vote in the United
States, I would have voted for Obama. Some of the other candidates have really strange
ideas about Arabs. For example, look at what Newt Gingrich said about
Palestine, when he stated that there are no
Palestinian people. These positions are unacceptable
and cannot be reasoned with.
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