Mohamed ElBaradei is one of those figures who, because he is fairly westernized, easily manipulates western media and left-of-center bloggers and pundits into thinking he wants a western-style democracy in Egypt.
It is not surprising that despite his obvious opportunism, ElBaradei has become something of a hero to those in the West opposed to Mubarek.
Earlier Sunday, the Muslim Brotherhood threw its support behind ElBaradei to hold proposed negotiations with the government in order to form a new unity government.
Speaking to Al-Jazeera, Muslim Brotherhood official Essam el-Eryan said that “political groups support ElBaradei to negotiation with the regime.”
ElBaradei, in an interview aired on CNN Sunday, said that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak must leave the country immediately.
“It is loud and clear from everybody in Egypt that Mubarak has to leave today, and it is non-negotiable for every Egyptian.” he said. He added that it should “be followed by a smooth transition [to] a national unity government to be followed by all the measures set in place for a free and fair election.”
A “national unity government.” That’s exactly what happened when the Shah left Iran, only to have the Islamists take advantage of the power vacuum. And it’s what happened in Lebanon until Hezbollah pulled out and collapsed the government recently. And in Gaza between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, until Hamas seized full control of Gaza.
ElBaredei is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, and so would be a national unity government.
Eqypt may need Mubarek gone, but it does not need a facade of unity which will be used by the Muslim Brotherhood to consolidate power.
Update: About ElBaredei’s outreach to the Muslim Brotherhood, and the possible consequences, in a piece written last April, The Islamist Flirtation:
For ElBaradei, such outreach might simply be good retail politics. After all, with control of one-fifth of the seats in Egypt’s parliament, the Brotherhood — though still formally banned, and routinely persecuted, by the Mubarak regime — wields considerable political clout.
Still, political participation doesn’t necessarily mean moderation. The Brotherhood’s long-awaited political platform, unveiled publicly back in October 2007, laid out a radical, exclusionary vision that marginalized women and non-Muslims and advocated the establishment of a religious authority with oversight over all governmental activity. The following year, an internal election within the movement strengthened the party’s hard-liners. More recently, conservative factions within the Brotherhood have been accused of carrying out a “purge” of the movement’s reformist wing — a charge confirmed by the installation of ultraconservative cleric Mohamed Badie as the organization’s supreme guide in January. If the Brotherhood is joining a coalition committed to political liberalism, it’s clearly not for ideological reasons.
And also check out this article from March 2009 in Haaretz, the left-wing Israeli newspaper, How ElBaradei misled the world about Iran’s nuclear program.
As Caroline Glick pointed out earlier this week, the stakes are high militarily:
Owing to that US aid, the Egyptian military today makes the military Israel barely defeated in 1973 look like a gang of cavemen. Egypt has nearly 300 F-16s. Its main battle tank is the M1A1 which it produces in Egypt. Its navy is largest in the region. Its army is twice the size of the IDF. Its air defense force constitutes a massive threat to the IAF. And of course, the ballistic missiles and chemical weapons it has purchased from the likes of North Korea and China give it a significant stand-off mass destruction capability.