My computer died this week, so I’m operating from backup and scrambling to keep up. But this story did grab my attention. The English typing Egyptian blogosphere (here’s looking at you Arabist and Beheyya) have both been paying close attention to the return of Muhammad ElBaradei to Egypt and to his nascent campaign for presidency. I’ll leave it to those of you who actually know something about Egyptian politics to explain the details of why this is interesting, but a few things strike even me right off the bat: Egyptian politics has been caught in a rather stale face-off between Mubarak’s military absolutist rule and the (un)official opposition of the Muslim Brotherhood. But Mubarak is getting on and while there is speculation about him trying to get his son to get the president gig, last I checked there was also simply a great amount of uncertainty about what is going to happen when he leaves the stage. Until now, he has been quite adept at undermining potential opposition movements and candidates (after all, Egypt is nominally a democracy) but ElBaradei presents a special challenge for the Mubarak regime. ElBaradei has street cred not only in Egypt but also internationally due to his 12 year tenure heading the IAEA, during which he and the organization won the Nobel Peace Prize (for Wikipedia’s take on the man see here), and did a pretty good job of not letting himself be used politically in the case of Iran and its nuclear aspirations. Of course, the US, especially under Bush, was not happy with ElBaradei as he didn’t give them what they wanted in terms of isolating Iran, and so I’m not sure what Obama’s administration is going to do, if anything, in terms of working behind the scenes to help ensure that Egyptians actually get a reasonably fair election in 2011.