Former ICJ judge suggested as Egypt foreign minister

Dina Ezzat , Saturday 5 Mar 2011

The world anxiously awaits the appointment of a new Egyptian FM. Seventy-five year-old Nabil El-Arabi is said to have insider knowledge in international matters

Who will be Egypt's next foreign minister? The question is fervent in the Egyptian foreign ministry and diplomatic corps and world capitals with stakes in the future FM – especially Tel Aviv. Indeed, the question was asked by the core group of demonstrators who ousted President Mubarak from his 30+ year rule, then Omar Suleiman, then Ahmed Shafik, and with him, Foreign Minister, Ahmed Abul-Gheit three days ago.

"Most probably it is going to be Nabil El-Arabi," said a well-informed official source.

Nabil El-Arabi is a veteran Egyptian diplomat who sat as judge in the International Court of Justice.

At the age of 75, El-Arabi is a well-known diplomatic and a legal figure. His name is closely associated with the national diplomatic "battle" to restore Taba under Egyptian sovereignty, despite many Israeli attempts to keep it within their borders post-Israeli occupation of the Sinai.

El-Arabi, according to several diplomats who worked with him in the offices of the foreign ministry and in several Egyptian diplomatic missions overseas, knows the ins and outs of international diplomacy.

The same diplomats add that El-Arabi is well-positioned, due to his own political standing as well as to his experience and contacts, to lift the image of Egyptian diplomacy at this crucial point.

But will El-Arabi even agree to take this daunting task?

"I was not offered the job to take it or to turn it down," El-Arabi said Friday evening during a seminar that he partook of in the Sawy Culture Wheel.

However, sources at the foreign ministry told Ahram Online that El-Arabi’s CV was sent out to the ministry on Thursday afternoon to "a high-level body."

"They just asked for it and we sent it; we don’t know why [they wanted it]," said an informed source at the protocol department of the foreign ministry.

El-Arabi is also considered for the soon-to-be-vacant seat of the Arab League Secretary General.

His name floated in the wake of clear Egyptian and Arab opposition to the nomination of former Parliamentary Affairs Minister, Moufid Shehab – whose name was strongly recommended by the outgoing Foreign Minister, Ahmed Abul-Gheit.

In view of Egyptian and Arab League diplomats who spoke to Ahram Online, El-Arabi would make a good choice for either post.

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