The appointment of former Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul-Gheit as the new Secretary General of the Arab League has been drawing fierce criticism from Arab media, primarily from Qatar.
The opposition to Aboul-Gheit’s appointment stems from his relations with Israel, and his meetings with former Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni. This is despite his clear anti-Israel statements, such as “Israel is an enemy state,” which he said in a 2010 visit to Lebanon.
“Tzipi’s boyfriend and Foreign Minister under Mubarak will be the new Secretary General to the Arab League,” wrote Hossam Yehiye of Al-Jazeera Egypt.
He continued, “let us remind the Foreign Ministers of the Arab League that when the former Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni announced the war in Gaza at a press conference in 2008, Aboul-Gheit was in attendance.”
Even former Balad MK Azmi Bashara, who fled to Qatar after being accused of spying for Hezbollah during the 2006 Second Lebanon War, joined in on the criticism by tweeting, “Today a Secretary General of the Arab League was chosen who publicly supported Israeli aggression against Gaza in 2008!”
Lebanese broadcaster Alisar Kobeisi wrote sarcastically that “Livni and Aboul-Gheit walk hand in hand regarding the issues of great nations. Congratulations Arabs on the new Secretary General of the league.”
At the same time, different Arab social media and official media outlets criticized the choice of Aboul-Gheit in political cartoons which portrayed him as an Israeli “emissary” and “puppet.” One of the cartoons shows Aboul-Gheit with Tzipi Livni saying that in every war with Gaza, “Aboul-Gheit stands behind you.”
In light of the media attack against him, Aboul-Gheit gave an interview to an Egyptian news website to address his so-called conciliatory nature regarding Israel, and regarding his relationship with Livni.
“These are rumors with no basis in reality. They don't even deserve a response. My positions are known and my history is as clear as the sun.”
Qatar is supposedly behind the criticism of Aboul-Gheit. The Qatari Foreign Minister explained after the decision was announced that their problem with Aboul-Gheit was personal and not due to him being an Egyptian national. Various Arabic newpapers reported in the last couple of days that the reason for the Qatari opposition is due to Aboul-Gheit's positions on the Palestinian issue, which is of course related to Israel, although primarily about the Hamas movement, about which Aboul-Gheit has expressed a very agressive stance.
After the beginning of Operation Cast Lead, Aboul-Gheit put the responsibility for the deterioration of the situation in Gaza squarely on Hamas.
He also called Hamas rocket attacks against Israeli civilians “ridiculous.”