Arab League Chief Warns of ‘Winds of Change’

Saturday, 12 Feb 2011 07:40 AM

By Hiram Reisner

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Arab League Secretary-General Amre Moussa says “winds of change” are spreading across the Middle East, but he is not sure what directions they will take. In a CNN interview, Moussa, mentioned as a possible Egyptian presidential candidate, also said egypt,arab,league,mideastEgypt is committed to peace in the region, but he did not specifically speak to the treaty with Israel.

“The only thing I want to tell you here is that the winds of change are sweeping the Middle East,” he said Friday. “How it would move and what direction, when, where, I'm not in a position to judge very well. But it is, in my opinion, the winds of change have started.”

Moussa, who once served as foreign minister under President Hosni Mubarak, was greeted with cheers when he first appeared in Tahrir Square last weekend. He has an elder statesman appeal for some Egyptians, boosted by his tough rhetoric on Israel.

However, Moussa would not say whether he would see the presidency, noting that now is the time for Egypt’s military council – which took control of the country when Mubarak stepped down – to forge a roadmap and line of policy for the country.

“Well, I believe this [his candidacy] is not an issue to discuss today or tonight,” Moussa said. “We still have to hear from the high council. And the time for such a question will come.

“In my opinion, efforts should concentrate on building a national consensus on how to approach the future,” he continued. “We should know in the next few days what the high council – military country – will tell the nation. But the goal should be reform and democracy.”

CNN host Eliot Spitzer asked whether Moussa believed the peace treaty with Israel would continue to be respected, and abided by, as part of Egypt’s foreign policy. Moussa would not get specific, saying only the country would adhere to the Arab Peace Initiative.

The initiative attempts to end the Arab-Israeli conflict, which means normalizing relations between the entire Arab region and Israel, in exchange for Israel’s complete withdrawal from the occupied territories.

“Egypt's foreign policy has certain basics. We, of course, are for peace,” he said. “We're basing all the policy, all the political diplomatic actions, diplomatic moves, on the peace that is called for unanimously by all Arab countries, according to the Arab Initiative.”

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