"Being a Terrorist Is Not a Stigma Forever"
An interview with Amr Moussa, secretary-general of the Arab League and would-be president of Egypt.
Last weekend, Amr Moussa, the longtime secretary-general of the Arab League, spoke in Cairo with Washington Post senior associate editor Lally Weymouth about his intention to seek the Egyptian presidency. L.W.: The United States has shared a strategic vision with Egypt. Is that going to continue?
A.M.: It depends on the strategic vision. In a time of major change, strategy should be revisited. Old angles should be reviewed. In as much as the relations between Egypt and the U.S. should continue to be solid, the changes in the Arab world should be taken into consideration. L.W.: What does that mean?
A.M.: On the positive side [the countries will continue] with cooperation, with understanding, with consultations. But bear in mind that democracy is emerging. It will not be a matter of a telephone call to one person that will give the answer: yes or no. L.W.: Officials in Washington are concerned about the change in Egypt's relationship with Iran.
A.M.: Iran is not the natural enemy of Arabs, and it shouldn't be. We have a lot to gain by peaceful relations—or less tense relations—with Iran. L.W.: The United States is focused on the nuclear issue.
A.M.: The nuclear issue in the Middle East means Israel and then Iran. L.W.: If you become president, would you keep the [peace] treaty with Israel?
A.M.: The treaty is a treaty. For us, the treaty has been signed, and it is for peace, but it depends also on the other side. …
If you asked me what kind of relations between the Arab world and Israel I would like, I would say that the Arab position—of which Egypt is a party—rests on the Arab initiative of 2002.
L.W.: Are you worried how well the secular groups here in Egypt are going to do in the upcoming parliamentary election?
A.M.: Presidential elections should have preceded the parliamentary elections, and a new civilian president should have been elected in order for him to preside over and lead the work to draft a new constitution and establish the framework of a new republic.
Then should come the parliamentary elections.
L.W.: It was the Supreme Military Council that decided to have the parliamentary elections first?
A.M.: It was the amendments to the constitution, which were approved [in a referendum] by the majority, over those who opposed it, like myself. I firmly believe that presidential elections should precede parliamentary elections.
L.W.: What does the military council say?
A.M.: Until now it is [planning] the parliamentary elections, but I believe we have enough time to perhaps reconsider.
Lally Weymouth is a senior associate editor of the Washington Post.