Last month H.E. Ahmed Aboul Gheit, Secretary-General of the League of Arab States, former ambassador, and former Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs, gave a talk about the second installment of his memoirs, Egypt’s Foreign Policy in Times of Crisis: My Testimony (AUC Press, 2020).
The book launch was held on October 27 in the AUC Tahrir Campus’s Ewart Hall, in collaboration between AUC Press and the AUC Tahrir Cultural Center. The closed event was attended by distinguished guests, including Egyptian career diplomat Amre Moussa and other prominent members of Egypt’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the League of Arab States, foreign ambassadors, journalists, professors, and Aboul Gheit’s friends and family.
Aboul Gheit, who spoke for about 30 minutes, partially in English and partially in Arabic, explained how he set out to write the two volumes. “I was 69 when I left the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. I was determined to start the writing process,” he said. “I finished writing My Testimony in nine months from my home in the Delta.” He went on to thank his wife, who was in the audience, crediting her for being the one person who truly inspired him to write the two volumes. “There was a young lady from the Delta, a lady who later became my wife. . . . I followed her advice.”
During his talk Aboul Gheit also gave a brief summary of each chapter from Egypt’s Foreign Policy in Times of Crisis. The 461-page memoir spans the period from his upbringing and preparation for a career in Egyptian diplomacy and politics, to his personal accounts of the challenges faced by Egypt vis-à-vis the United States, Egypt’s relations with Sudan and Turkey, the negotiations on the Security Council reform at the United Nations, and Egypt’s status within the Arab World and the African content. The book ends with “the last forty five days of Mubarak’s reign,” noted Aboul Gheit. “I relate everything I saw.”
When reflecting on the amount of detailed information and personal accounts shared in his memoirs, he noted: “Eighty five percent is what I experienced, fifteen percent I would never broach because this would jeopardize Egypt’s national security.”
After his talk, Aboul Gheit took several questions from the audience that ranged from the Arab Spring to current Arab relations. “There is no such thing as the Arab Spring,” he noted, “only the Arab Autumn and the Arab Winter,” saying that both Syria and Libya had been destroyed. The Secretary-General also later remarked that the League of Arab States was currently going through the most difficult period of its history.
When asked about the possibility of him writing a book about his years as head of the League of Arab States, he said: “It is very unlikely that I will write my memoirs about the Arab League.”