In this image from Egyptian state television aired Tuesday evening Feb. 1, 2011, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak delivers an address announcing he will not run for a new term in office in September elections, but rejected demands that he step down immediately and leave the country, vowing to die on Egypt's soil. (AP Photo/Egyptian State Television via APTN) EGYPT OUT TV OUT (AP)

Les Gelb squarely in pro-Mubarak camp

The Council on Foreign Relations president emeritus thinks the "mob" in Egypt has too many demands

Justin Elliott
February 4, 2011 7:50PM (UTC)

Yesterday I included Leslie Gelb, the president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations and former Times columnist, in my guide to the Egyptian regime's American fan club. Gelb had written a column calling on Obama to stand by our man Hosni Mubarak.

Now Gelb seems to be growing into the role of the Egyptian dictator's freelance spokesman in America.


Remember on Thursday when Mubarak told Christiane Amanpour, in a widely mocked formulation, that he wants to step down, but "if I resign today, there will be chaos." Well here's Gelb echoing that exact same "argument" in the Times lead Egypt story today:

“The worry on Mubarak’s part is that if he says yes to this, there will be more demands,” said Leslie H. Gelb, president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations. “And since he’s not dealing with a legal entity, but a mob, how does he know there won’t be more demands tomorrow?”

Why does this pro-democracy protest movement mob have to have so many demands?

Gelb may be surprised to learn that there is in fact a steering committee of opposition groups in Egypt that have even formed their own shadow legislature.


Meanwhile, it's worth noting that Gelb has been quoted five times in the last month alone in the Times. Four of those times were in stories by a single reporter, Helene Cooper, who finds Gelb's rolodex impressive. From a story headlined, "Could a man be the White House social secretary?":

“What about some of the people resigning from Congress?” suggested Leslie H. Gelb, the president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations, who himself has a pretty formidable Rolodex.

Justin Elliott

Justin Elliott is a reporter for ProPublica. You can follow him on Twitter @ElliottJustin

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