Gheit new head of Arab League

Gheit new head of Arab League
Updated 12 March 2016

Gheit new head of Arab League

Gheit new head of Arab League

CAIRO: Ahmed Aboul Gheit, who was elected secretary-general of the Arab League on Thursday, served as Egypt’s last foreign minister under Hosni Mubarak until 2011.

The veteran diplomat is still mocked for saying “Egypt is not Tunisia,” just days before the revolt erupted on Jan. 25, 2011 after the fall of Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali at the start of the Arab Spring uprising.
But a day before Mubarak stepped down on Feb. 11 that year, Abul Gheit came back on that remark in a television interview. He acknowledged there were “tensions” in the country, mainly because of then 82-year-old Mubarak’s “advanced age... and over the issue of succession.”
An impeccable English speaker who always dressed in business suits, Aboul Gheit was often criticized for being mild and discreet.
Since Mubarak’s fall, Abul Gheit, 73, a tough critic of Iran, had stayed away from politics and devoted his time to writing. He published his memoirs in 2013. “While I started working with him, I was surprised to find an aging man whose determination and concentration were eroding,” he wrote about Mubarak in his memoirs.
Unlike the charismatic ex-chief of the Arab League, Egyptian Amr Moussa, who was known for his tough positions on Israel, Abul Gheit adopted a relatively softer policy toward the Jewish state. He said he was merely implementing Mubarak’s policies.
Meanwhile, Arab League foreign ministers on Friday declared Lebanon’s Shiite movement Hezbollah a “terrorist” group, after Gulf states adopted the same stance. Nearly all members of the pan-Arab body supported the decision, but not Lebanon and Iraq which expressed “reservations,” the bloc said in a statement read out at a news conference by Bahraini diplomat Wahid Mubarak Sayar. “The resolution of the League’s council (of foreign ministers) includes the designation of Hezbollah as a terrorist group.”
The announcement comes after Gulf states last week declared Hezbollah a “terrorist” group, escalating tensions with the movement which has lawmakers in Lebanon’s Parliament and is backed by Iran.
Earlier, the Saudi delegation briefly withdrew from discussions to protest against Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim Al-Jaafari’s refusal to label Hezbollah a terror group.