Mohamed ElBaradei: the wizard behind the curtain

Tamara Holder Contributor
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Egyptians began their protest against President Hosni Mubarak on January 25, nine days ago. The reason is clear: they want him out.

But who will lead the Egyptians once he leaves?

Many suspected Mubarak was grooming his son, Gamal, to succeed him; however, the AP recently reported that Gamal will not run for president in this fall’s election.

Egypt’s Mohamed ElBaradei, an international figure and 2005 Nobel Peace Prize winner for his work with the International Atomic Energy Agency, is the leader of the opposition movement; however, it remains unclear whether his ultimate goal is to run for president.

Regardless, ElBaradei’s work over the course of the past year proves he definitely has an agenda.

In February 2010, ElBaradei began a movement for democratic reform in Egypt. He created a “seven point petition” in favor of his leadership. His goal was to collect the signatures of one million people from various opposition parties, including the Muslim Brotherhood. As of August of 2010, 300,000 people had signed the petition; two-thirds of the signatures were those of Muslim Brotherhood members. This petition is a key piece of evidence to show that the opposition is rallying behind one leader: ElBaradei.

Nathan Brown, a Middle East expert at George Washington University, dismissed the collaborative effort of the various opposition forces. He told the Washington Post he did not anticipate that the Brotherhood and ElBaradei’s National Association for Change organization would “rise to the occasion and mount a movement capable of challenging the government.”

The Wall Street Journal reported today,

In the weeks leading up to the extraordinary uprising, a spectrum of opposition figures banded together to plan an alternative vision to the regime of President Hosni Mubarak. Even before last month’s popular ouster of Tunisia’s president electrified protesters in Egypt and across the Middle East, these people held dozens of meetings lasting more than 100 hours. They created a 100-member “shadow legislature” of union leaders, judges and representatives from youth parties and the country’s banned but influential Muslim Brotherhood, say people in attendance.

The writer reported that the protests in Egypt “largely took them by surprise.” In response, opposition leaders quickly assembled a 10-person “steering committee” to communicate with Mubarak and the Egyptian people. (ElBaradei is also leading this group but he hasn’t attended the meetings.)

Also, within the past year, ElBaradei has organized his supporters through the use of social media. “It was really this last 14 months, where someone I knew as not being particularly computer savvy, taught himself to use Facebook and Twitter and YouTube and started to do in virtual space which was forbidden to do by the Mubarak regime, the freedom of assembly by large groups,” says Laban Coblentz, ElBaradei’s longtime speechwriter.

It is foolish to believe (and report) ElBaradei and his opposition forces were surprised by the protests. On January 18, ElBaradei tweeted, “The writing is on the wall. Hope regime gets it: change cannot wait.” On the 19th, he tweeted, “Fully support call 4 peaceful demonstrations vs. repression & corruption. When our demands for change fall on deaf ears what options remain?”

His last tweet was the day after the protests began. On the 26th, he wrote, “We shall continue to exercise our right of peaceful demonstration and restore our freedom & dignity. Regime violence will backfire badly.”

As the Egyptian people continue to protest, ElBaradei continues to plan his next move with opposition leaders. They also continue to tweet as ElBaradei remains silent. Unfortunately, they mostly communicate a play-by-play of events, that demonstrators are being shot from a bridge or that someone was beaten by Mubarak supporters. Aren’t the Egyptian people concerned with who will lead them once Mubarak is gone? There is hardly any talk of their future desires.

Within a matter of weeks, if not days, expect ElBaradei to present an opposition-supported leader from behind the curtain. That leader may be the wizard himself.

Tamara N. Holder is one of the nation’s rising attorneys and legal analytical stars. She is a Contributor for the Fox News Channel. She has received recognition from some of the country’s most respected people, organizations and publications. Tamara founded The Law Firm of Tamara N. Holder, LLC, in 2005. Her work includes: criminal defense, expungement, race discrimination, police brutality, public policy, and pro bono practices. Seeing the need for outreach in this area, Tamara founded www.xpunged.com, a practice that provides a second chance to those individuals who have expungeable offenses under Illinois law.