Faiza Abou el-Naga’s appointment the right choice for Egypt
Those expecting Naga’s appointment to be bad for civil society groups are wrong
I have known Faiza Abou el-Naga for a long time: ever since she was minister of international cooperation during Mubarak’s reign. With her permanent and remarkable smile, she seemed to be quiet, chic, a promising and responsible person capable of taking on greater responsibilities. I used to come across her by chance at opera nights in Cairo.
When I visited a number of African and Arab countries, I heard a lot about her from officials there, before getting to know her in person. With her Egyptian look and European culture, she was able to win the hearts of those she met during her visits.
All those who met her agreed that her strong personality and decisiveness were remarkable; she was sympathetic and had the ability to contain and undertake positive debate.
I personally met her later on in the military council. At this stage, the conditions and challenges allowed the lady to reveal her potential and ability to deal with different situations. When she was at the ministry, I heard from many members of the military council that she was the “manliest” minister in the ministry, and if it wasn’t for the existing conditions she would have been the fittest to be appointed as prime minister.
If it wasn't for the existing conditions she would have been the fittest to be appointed as prime minister.Abdel Latif el-Menawy
At this stage, I followed her from a different angle and she proved that what was said about her was true indeed. She was eager to resolve outstanding matters; the national interest with respect to the interests of others was a priority for her.
The reactions to Faiza Abou el-Naga’s appointment as national security advisor to President Sisi were varied: some considered this position to be challenging the United States because of Naga’s position on the issue of civil society organizations that have led to a crisis between Egypt and the United States. Naga had clearly criticized American and Western behavior in disregarding Egypt and providing financial support to these organizations in order to undermine the Egyptian state. The United States did not like this. Upon the formation of the government, a U.S. official humorously told me: “we will accept any government as long as Faiza Abou el-Naga is not in it.”
This choice by President Sisi was therefore seen as a challenge to the Americans, but the answer here is simple: if the relations between the two states weren’t more mature than these observations, Egypt would have asked in return: Why doesn’t the U.S. administration give notice to Susan Rice, who is known for her hard-line attitudes toward Egypt?
Appointing Naga as the president’s national security advisor has been the president’s best decision so far.Abdel Latif el-Menawy
Similarly, those who expect Naga’s presence to be bad for civil society groups are also wrong because what governs the relationship of the organizations is the law and as long as they respect the laws of the state there will be no problem.
Consequently, these organizations should not be worried about it as long the sovereignty of the country and its laws are respected. The national work leads to the community’s development with no violations threatening the national security.
In my opinion, appointing Naga as the president’s national security advisor has been the president’s best decision so far. I hope that his team, which he really needs, carries on with the same level of choices in various disciplines. This choice also expands the concept of national security in the eyes of the leadership and people because national security is not just a border security issue but rather starts from the bread queue. This developed way of thinking and the right choice will raise hopes for the country.
This article was first published in al-Masry al-Youm on Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2014.
Abdel Latif el-Menawy is an author, columnist and multimedia journalist who has covered conflicts around the world. He is the author of “Tahrir: the last 18 days of Mubarak,” a book he wrote as an eyewitness to events during the 18 days before the stepping down of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Menawy’s most recent public position was head of Egypt’s News Center. He is a member of the National Union of Journalists in the United Kingdom, and the Egyptian Journalists Syndicate. He can be found on Twitter @ALMenawy