Mohamed ElBaradei, the Egyptian Maverick.
When the uprising in Egypt reached its maturity point and captured the attention of the media outlets around the World, Doctor Mohamed ElBaradei erupted as a center figure. He had returned to the country to “stand with my people”, he said; but he did more than just that, becoming the “go to person,” especially for the American media.
He helped understand the origin of the crisis, analyze the events being broadcasted on television screens, and soon became the only known name of Mubarak possible successors. Of course, ElBaradei never presented himself as such, but he engaged in methodically clearing anything that has the potential of jeopardizing his rise to power.
When the question was raised as to whether the uprising wasn’t laying the groundwork for a Muslim Brotherhood takeover, he swiftly worked to kill the storyline. He understood that a rampant fear of the Muslim Brotherhood would deprive the uprising of the much-needed support and active help from the people and governments around the World.
When, in a desperate move, Mubarak named for the first time a vice president, made some substantial concessions, and promised to not seek reelection, ElBaradei joined the crowd in calling for his immediate resignation. He knew that dictators excel at cracking down opposition and consolidating power, and that Mubarak's crucial role in the Middle East peace process may tilt the balance in his favor.
When more recently it was reported that Vice President Joe Biden spoke to his newly-appointed counterpart Omar Suleiman, he criticized the move and called the ensuing talks between the Mubarak regime and the Egyptian opposition bogus. He knew that such talks would keep him out of the process, given his lack of political affiliation.
ElBaradei is seen agreeing and disagreeing with the American government in the handling the Egyptian crisis. He certainly has no problem finding a microphone to get his message through, as journalists seem to be attracted to him. But it is unclear whether being a maverick will carry him to power, or get him to the more realistic position, for a sixty-eight-year-old retired diplomat, of kingmaker.