Islamists clinch lion's share of Egyptian president's advisory team
Ahram Online, Monday 27 Aug 2012
Members of President Morsi's new team include six from Muslim Brotherhood, three from Salafist Nour Party, and two Islamist-leaning independents

The names of the presidential assistants and advisers who will aid Egypt's first freely-elected head of state in the post-Mubarak era were finally revealed on Monday. With four assistants and 17 consultants – and more to come – Yasser Ali, spokesman for President Mohamed Morsi, said that the presidential team represented "different colours of the political spectrum," although team members' precise mandates remain unclear.

Six members of the consulting team hail from Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood – as does Morsi himself – and the group's Freedom and Justice Party (FJP). Those six individuals are:

Essam El-Erian, acting chairman of the FJP. A veteran politician, El-Erian was a member of the Brotherhood's guidance bureau before the FJP's established. He was elected to parliament in Egypt's first post-Mubarak parliamentary polls late last year. El-Erian has said he would retain his post at the head of the FJP while serving as one of Morsi's consultants.

Mohei Hamed Mohamed, 52-year-oldsenior member of the Brotherhood's guidance bureau. Originally an otolaryngologist, Mohamed has been a member of the group since the late 1970s. He served as secretary-general of the Brotherhood's administrative office from 2001 until 2008, when he joined the group's guidance bureau.

Mohamed was detained almost eight times during the Mubarak era, including once during contentious 2005 parliamentary elections that saw fierce competition between the Brotherhood and Mubarak's now-defunct National Democratic Party (NDP).

Hussein Mohamed El-Qazaz, economic adviser to the FJP and stand-in member of Egypt's 100-member constituent assembly, tasked with drafting a new constitution.El-Qazaz is also a businessman and university professor in the field of Organisation Development (OD).

Rafiq Samuel Habib, an Egyptian Christian thinker and vice president of the FJP. Habib obtained his post-doctoral degree in sociology from Ain Shams University in 1988 and his master's degree in psychology in 1985, also from Ain Shams University.

Omaima Kamel, member of both the FJP and the current constituent assembly. The former MP also served as official spokesperson for women's affairs in Morsi's presidential campaign. Kamel's husband, Khaled Hanafi, is a leading Brotherhood member.

Ayman Ahmed Ali, a physician and member of the Muslim Brotherhood.

The Salafist Nour Party, meanwhile, boasts three members on Morsi's advisory team, in addition to party head Emad Abdel-Ghafour, who was chosen as the president's consultant for 'social communication.'

Nour Party-affiliated members of the advisory team are:

Khalid Alam El-Din, leading member of Salafist Nour Party who was also offered the post of environment minister in the cabinet of Prime Minister Hisham Qandil. El-Din turned down the offer, however, to protest the small number of cabinet posts offered to the Nour Party.

Bassam Hassanein El-Zarqa, member of the Nour Party's higher committee. El-Zarqa is a former MP and a current member of the 100-member constituent assembly.

Former presidential candidate Selim El-Awa was also chosen as presidential consultant. A 69-year-old Islamic scholar and writer, El-Awa was one of 13 candidates to contest Egypt's first post-Mubarak presidential election, in which he won some 250,000 votes.

El-Awa has been in the limelight for several years, especially due to his controversial stances on Coptic-Christians and Shia Muslims. He has also adopted a critical position vis-a-vis the Muslim Brotherhood's political performance.

A woman, Islamist-leaning Cairo University political science professor Pakinam El-Sharkawi, meanwhile, was selected as presidential assistant for political issues.

Two women have also joined the consulting team so far: veteran writer and journalist Sekina Fouad, also a leading member of the liberal Democratic Front Party, and the Brotherhood's Omaima Kamel (see above).

The presidential team also includes two Coptic-Christians: the FJP's Rafiq Habib (see above) and Samir Morcus, presidential assistant for democratic transition. Morcus, who previously headed up the Masry Foundation for Citizenship and Dialogue, a local NGO, is not formally affiliated with any political party.

A number of independent liberal and nationalist figures were also chosen as members of the president's advisory team. These include:

Amr El-Leithy, prominent Egyptian television presenter for the Mehwar satellite channel, owned by former NDP business tycoon Hassan Rateb. El-Leithy was an active member of Mubarak's NDP, serving on the party's media committee. El-Leithy is widely known for his high-profile interviews with prominent Egyptian figures, including President Morsi himself.

Farouq Goweida, prominent poet and journalist at flagship state daily Al-Ahram. Goweida was touted as a possible nominee for the post of culture minister following last year's revolution.

Ayman El-Sayyad, editor-in-chief of Waghat Nazar magazine and veteran journalist for several regional publications including pan-Arab magazine Al-Magala. El-Sayyad currently works as a consultant for several regional media centres and forums. A Political writer, El-Sayad was among several pro-revolution Egyptian journalists at the time of last year's Tahrir Square uprising.

Mohamed Esmat Seif El-Dawla, a Nasserist-leaning political analyst. Seif El-Dawla is also a founder of the 'Egyptians against Zionism' popular campaign, which opposes normalisation with Israel and calls for the abrogation of Egypt's Camp David peace agreement with the self-proclaimed Jewish state.

Seif El-Din Abdul Fatah, a Cairo University political science professor since1988. He is also aconsultant for the International Academy for Islamic Thought.

Emad Eddin Hussein Abdullah, former head of Egypt's Police Academy. Sixty-year-old Abdullah, who served as assistant to former interior minister Mahmoud Ibrahim, holds an MA in both law and security studies.

Ahmed Omran, computer science professor at Fayoum University. Omran obtained his BA in computer science from Cairo University in 2002, before going on to earn his MA and PhD in the same field.

Despite the announcement of the above appointments, however, it appears to remains unclear – event to the appointees themselves – exactly what functions they will perform.

"The consulting team is not part of the presidential team," Ayman El-Sayad declared on Twitter, while Farouq Goweida told Ahram Online that his responsibilities as presidential consultant "remain unclear." Goweida added, however, that he planned to put "general freedoms and cultural development" at the top of his list of priorities.

Notably, the presidential team does not include any members of the revolutionary youth groups that played prominent roles in last year's uprising or were formed shortly afterward. Nor does it include any labourers or farmers, or members of any political parties other than the FJP and the Salafist Nour Party.

President Morsi, currently on a state visit to China, is expected to hold his first meeting with his new team once he returns from an international tour in which he is also slated to visit Iran and Germany.