Thursday, April 14, 2011

An Important Journalist Talks Through His Hat

David Ignatius is an important journalist who's been around a long time and is regarded as reliable. He's been talking to prominent Egyptians, and has a column about three he thinks will come out on or near the top. Amr Moussa and Mohammed el-Baradei are no-brainers if you're an external observer who couldn't name five Egyptians without a spot of Googling. (And I have no idea if the Egyptian voters will agree that they're so important, or if this is a Western conceit). It's interesting to note that the three men seem significantly more wary of the Muslim Brotherhood than most of the Western media is.

The reason I'm interrupting my non-blogging to call attention to the Ignatius column, however, has to do with Naquib Sawiris, the third Egyptian power-broker he chooses to introduce to us.
...Naguib Sawiris, the chief executive of Orascom, a giant telecommunications company that is Egypt’s biggest private employer. Egyptian analysts describe the first two as potential future presidents and the third as a possible kingmaker. (Sawiris, a Coptic Christian, wouldn’t have a chance in a presidential bid, but he has just formed a powerful new political party.)
Is there any conceivable way Ignatius can know that Sawiris' new political party is powerful? There isn't is there? Normally, the power of political parties is measured first and foremost by results of elections, and that hasn't happened yet in Egypt. I suppose one might try to gauge such power by counting membership or some other form of secondary measurement, perhaps the power of political patronage - but Sawiris' party didn't exist a month ago, so that can't be it. Note also that we're not told what the name of the party is, which may somewhat hamper our ability to watch it as it rises or not.

How very puzzling.


Barry Meislin said...

...regarded as reliable...

For putting his foot in his mouth, maybe.


(But once again, this depends on one's mindset and has no bearing on truth or reality.)

Anonymous said...

Al-Baradei has zero local support and was basically the front-man for the Muslim Brotherhood. If he is being "cautious" it is because he has been dumped. Sawaris is a "businessman" with strong links to the prior regime - hence how he built his business - and amongst other things has a good working relationship with Kim Jeong Il. Mussa is an old colleague of Mubarak. Life is too short to read a churnalist's article but I will happily bet money that he didn't bother mentioning what all of these guys have in common - they were all senior members of the old regime. Basically we would have got the same result soon anyway because Mubarak is dying. What a revolution and let freedom fly!


Anonymous said...

Ok read the article, Baradei is not some "saintly" figure, he is an empty suit. Have a quick look at where Orascom does business and ask yourself if it's head is corrupt or not. And as for your question about their influence, i think the article answered it. They campaigned on a no vote in the referendum and the MB campaigned on a yes. Yes passed by 77%, in a normal world that would be an indication of how insignificant these "founding fathers" are.


Silke said...

I've stopped reading Ignatius ages ago, he "knows" too much about too much

- he is like those packaged tour tourists who come back and tell me they now know all about how life is in ....take your pick ...

NormanF said...

There is no chance a Christian will be elected President Of Egypt.

Right now the choice is between a radical nationalist and a front man for the Muslim Brotherhood who is just as extreme.

Some choice.

Silke said...

in his interview with Der Spiegel Abr Moussa positively gloated at the prospect of some Anti-Peace with Israel faction coming out the winner - it's in part 2 - ctrl-F for democracy and learn what it is all about. He seems to think democracy is a kind of autocracy via the voting booth.,1518,750969,00.html

Soccer Dad said...

Ignatius is reliable for writing what he wishes to be true even if mistaken, like the 2007 NIE on Iran's nuclear intentions. I still don't think that he's walked back those columns.

Soccer Dad said...

I guess I should add. He's very well connected. And folks who want a megaphone to get their message out trust him. And he's very good at transmitting messages to the benefit of his source. Of course, if his source is wrong, so is he.

Silke said...

I have just finished listening to these four reporting about their trip to Egypt

Can it be that Ignatius visits such events and then summarizes them in a way he considers good for clicks?

The three spoke frankly in interviews last week

might that have been the interviews the four at the Washington Institute talked about and he translated it into sop leaving out all their qualifications and I don't know-s, I couldn't say-s?

i.e. the talk is worth listening to because for example Satloff mentions that some implicated in the murder of Sadat have been released from prison and promptly founded their own party.

It is a pity they don't provide transcripts, they would make it so easy to put the Ignatiusses of this world to shame with his fluff about "founding fathers", really???!!!

Egypt after the Revolution: An Early Assessment

Featuring Dina Guirguis, J. Scott Carpenter, David Schenker, and Robert Satloff
April 11, 2011

Anonymous said...

Review of
Laura S. Lieber. Yannai on Genesis: An Invitation to Piyyut. Cincinnati: Hebrew Union College Press, 2010. 500 pp. $59.50 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-87820-464-9.

and an English website on piyyut

AKUS said...

I have found him to be quite unreliable, actually. Like Tom Friedman, he seems to wander around the ME collecting gossip and tidbits which he works up into columns that appear more authoritative than they are.

Anonymous said...

It's a popular occupation, wandering around the ME collecting gossip. To Mention El Baradai without mentioning the stoning he received from the Islamists or to mention how disliked Moussa is amongst the youngsters like Sandmonkey. This isn't serious.

Anonymous said...

"David Ignatius, having talked to Syrian officials (probably the Syrian ambassador in DC), regurgitated and revamped the old talking point that Assad might stage a coup against his own regime. That line came straight from Damascus, as evident from how one of the regime’s reliable English-language publicists, Sami Moubayed, also wrote that Assad would be leading a “corrective movement.” Proof that this was indeed the script from Damascus came when one of Assad’s Lebanese clients, Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, hailed Assad’s speech as (what else?) “The second corrective movement.” "
Tony Badran

Silke said...

a couple of days ago I heard a piece listing all the times Assad has promised decisive reforms

even though the delusional saying "if only the F├╝hrer would know" is mostly cited in connection with the 3rd Reich, I can testify that it is a wide-spread phenomen in all hierarchically organised groups i.e. a (bad) boss manages to come across as so likeable that lots believe that if only he knew what his minions are doing day in day out he'd change all that immediately.

The argument that in all likelihood he is getting told and thus knows is not able to deflate the illusion.