Egyptian and international political figure Mohamed ElBaradei appeared on an Arabic TV channel for the first time in three years on Saturday, saying he decided to speak out about political and economic issues in order to help at a time of crisis.
In the first of a five-part series of interviews, ElBaradei, who resigned as vice president of the republic in August 2013 and subsequently left the country, said that even though he had never stopped being part of the public sphere in Egypt, he thinks that the time has come for him to speak out now as he believes that “everyone today should speak according to his experience and vision, because he might be able to provide at least one percent of help."
The former politician said he believes this help is much needed in a time when the whole Arab world is heading towards "self-destruction."
He did not however announce clearly if he is planning to play a direct role in the Egyptian political scene in the coming days.
In the interview with Another Face of the Story, a programme broadcast on the pan-Arab channel El-Arabi, ElBaradei, a former career diplomat, talked about his role as a member of Egypt's UN delegation during the1967 Arab-Israeli war, as well as being part of Egypt's diplomatic corps during the Camp David agreement.
ElBaradei will appear on the coming four episodes of the programme, and is expected to talk about the future of Egypt, his solutions to the country’s economic and political crises, and his vision for the region's problems.
He said during the show that he had taken a step back from politics after 16 years, including 12 years heading the International Atomic Energy Agency in Geneva between 1997 and 2009, to give space for different visions, "wishing that he was wrong and the others were right," but "unfortunately time proved that this is not the case."
ElBaradei, a former diplomat who became prominent figure in Egypt in 2010 when he returned to Egypt from Geneva and spoke out publicly against then-president Hosni Mubarak, was appointed vice president in July 2013 after the ouster of Mohamed Morsi. He resigned a month later, after the dispersal of the pro-Morsi Rabaa protest camp. He subsequently left the country.
The series of interviews come days before the sixth anniversary of the Egyptian revolution on 25 January.
Also on Saturday evening, television presenter Ahmed Moussa on Sada El-Balad channel, who is known for leaking personal recordings of revolutionary activists and politicians, leaked purported recordings of two of ElBaradei’s phone calls.
One purported to be a call from March 2011 with Sami Anan, who was then army chief of staff. In the call ElBaradei apparently negotiates for the demands of protesters who were calling for the resignation of the cabinet of prime minister Ahmed Shafiq, Mubarak’s last appointed prime minister.
Moussa also broadcast a recording that was a purported personal phone call between ElBaradei and his brother, Ali, in which the two discussed how the veteran politician was dealing with the Revolutionary Youth Coalition.
Moussa, a stalwart anti-revolutionary voice, did not disclose how he obtained the recordings, but presented the calls as evidence that ElBaradei, who was once looked at by many young revolutionaries as one of the leaders of the 2011 revolution, looked down on many political and revolutionary figures at that time.
He called on his audience to tweet a hashtag in Arabic: "expose rude ElBaradei." The hashtag was trending in Egypt in a few hours.
Responding to the campaign, ElBaradei wrote on Twitter: "Private phone conversations of political opponents wiretapped, doctored and aired on TV. Fascism rearing its ugly head yet again."
This is not the first time since his resignation that the Nobel Peace Prize winner has been subjected to fierce attacks.
In November ElBaradei released a long statement defending himself against what he described as a years-long "smear campaign" against him by the Egyptian media.
In a statement issued on his Facebook page, he defended himself against what he called "lies" in the Egyptian media regarding his role in the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, his resignation as vice president, and his role as the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency prior to the 2003 US invasion of Iraq.
He also revealed how he and other key political players who opposed Morsi only learned of the detention of the former president during their meeting with the Supreme Council of Armed Forces on the morning of 3 July 2013.
ElBaradei has been increasingly vocal in his criticisms of the current administration on Twitter in the past couple of months.