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Wednesday, 23 January, 2002, 16:04 GMT
Profile: Amr Moussa
Amr Moussa
Amr Moussa wants to streamline the Arab League
The Arab League's secretary-general may not be popular with Israel or the US, but Egyptians like him so much they literally sing his praises.

Egypt's former Foreign Minister Amr Moussa was appointed to the top position in May of last year.

Shortly before that, Egyptian crooner Shaaban Abdel Rahim released a hit song with the lyrics "I hate Israel and I love Amr Moussa".

People will not calm down unless and until the Palestinian question is fairly resolved.

Amr Moussa

The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs - produced by former US diplomats - described him as "no ordinary Egyptian Government official".

It notes that he has frequently been cited as the civilian figure Egyptians would elect as president if they had a real choice.

Time magazine described the 65-year-old as "perhaps the most adored public servant in the Arab world".

Mr Moussa's immense popularity stems from his for his sharp criticism of Israel's treatment of the Palestinians during his 10-year tenure as Egypt's foreign minister.

When Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak had him replaced, many believed the decision to have been motivated by envy of Mr Moussa's huge popularity.

Rumour had it that the "I love Amr Moussa" song was the final straw.

Strong opinions

Mr Moussa has held posts in India and at the United Nations. But despite his long career as a diplomat, he has become known for his quick temper.

In his role as foreign minister, Mr Moussa was highly critical of US support for Israel and Israel's treatment of Palestinians.

Palestinian prepares to attack
Moussa holds strong views on the treatment of Palestinians
He aired his opinions during speeches, interviews - and rows with foreign envoys.

His appointment to the top position in the Arab League was unanimously endorsed by all member states. Mr Moussa's supporters included both Iraq and Kuwait, who have had a hostile relationship ever since the Gulf War.

Mr Moussa says he is determined to streamline the League and turn it into a powerful voice of unified Arab opinion. He hopes to eliminate lifetime bureaucrats and revitalise the 800-strong staff.

Mr Moussa says his goals include improving Arab economies and promoting solidarity with Arab-Americans.

But the Palestinian issue remains at the top of his agenda.

He believes the conflict fuels regional extremism and has told journalists that he suspects it may even have contributed to the 11 September attacks on the US.

"People will not calm down unless and until the Palestinian question is fairly resolved," a Time interview quoted him as saying.

See also:

21 Sep 01 | Country profiles
Quick guide: Arab League
04 Jan 02 | Country profiles
Timeline: Arab League
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