Moral Outrage
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Omar Suleiman to follow Mubarak in Egypt?

Hosni Mubarak, the man who still claims to be president of Egypt, swore in the most preposterous choice of vice-president in an attempt to soften the fury of the protesters. – Omar Suleiman, Egypt’s chief negotiator with Israel and Mubarak’s senior intelligence officer, is a 75-year-old with years of visits to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem and four heart attacks to his credit.

Veteran Middle East correspondent Robert Fisk questions: How this elderly apparatchik might be expected to deal with the anger and joy of liberation of 80 million Egyptians is beyond imagination.

Omar Suleiman however has long taken a close role in key policy areas, including the Palestinian-Israeli peace process, an issue seen as vital to Egypt’s relationship with its key ally and aid donor the United States.

Suleiman rose to national prominence through the armed forces. He attended the Soviet Union’s Frunze Military Academy in the 1960s — as Mubarak did a few years earlier. He received training at the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare School and Center at Fort Bragg, N.C., in the 1980s. Suleiman continues to have privileged contacts with U.S. intelligence and military officials, with whom he has now been dealing for at least a quarter-century.

As the head of the Mukhabarat, Suleiman’s political and military portfolio is vast. The GIS combines the intelligence-gathering elements of the CIA, the counterterrorism role of the FBI, the protection duties of the Secret Service, and the high-level diplomacy of the State Department.

He has intervened in civil wars in Sudan, patched up the tiff between Saudi King Abdullah and Libyan leader Muammar el-Qaddafi over the latter’s alleged attempt to assassinate the former, and put pressure on Syria to stop meddling in Lebanon and to dissociate itself from Iran.

Most importantly, Suleiman has mediated in the Israel-Palestine conflict, Egypt’s most pressing national security priority.


10 Responses to “Omar Suleiman to follow Mubarak in Egypt?”

  1. Three cables from the US Embassy in Cairo to the State Dept published by Wikileaks also shed further light on Omar Suleiman.

    At an Apr 2009 meeting between Suleiman, then Egypt’s intelligence chief, and US Joint Chiefs chair Adm Mullen, Suleiman said “his overarching regional goal was combating radicalism, especially in Gaza, Iran, and Sudan. Radicalism in Gaza posed a particularly serious threat to Egyptian national security.”
    Egypt has “started a confrontation with Hezbollah and Iran,” Suleiman stressed, and “we will not allow Iran to operate in Egypt.”

    Suleiman said, per a diplomatic cable, that Egypt had made it clear to Iran that if they interfere in Egypt, Egypt will interfere in Iran, with his agency recruiting agents in Iraq and Syria.”

    A Bush-era cable from 2007 detailing thoughts on presidential succession states that “no one in Egypt has any certainty about who will succeed Mubarak,” though contenders include son Gamal Mubarak, Suleiman, or Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa. Of Suleimon, described as a Mubarak “consigliere,” the US Embassy assessed that because of his military background he would have “to figure in any succession scenario for Gamal, possibly as a transitional figure.” Suleimon “adamantly denies any personal ambitions but his interest and dedication to national service is obvious. His loyalty to Mubarak seems rock-solid.

  2. A chilling excerpt from a research article by Stephen Soldz, psychologist, public health researcher, and faculty member at the Boston Graduate School of Psychoanalysis:

    Relating to the US’s rendition-to-torture program, Jane Mayer, in “The Dark Side”, pointed to Omar Suleiman’s role in the rendition program:

    “Each rendition was authorized at the very top levels of both governments….The long-serving chief of the Egyptian central intelligence agency, Omar Suleiman, negotiated directly with top Agency officials. [Former U.S. Ambassador to Egypt] Walker described the Egyptian counterpart, Suleiman, as ‘very bright, very realistic,’ adding that he was cognizant that there was a downside to “some of the negative things that the Egyptians engaged in, of torture and so on. But he was not squeamish, by the way” (pp. 113).

    Stephen Grey, in “Ghost Plane”, his investigative work on the rendition program also points to Suleiman as central in the rendition program:
    “To negotiate these assurances [that the Egyptians wouldn’t “torture” the prisoner delivered for torture] the CIA dealt principally in Egypt through Omar Suleiman, the chief of the Egyptian general intelligence service (EGIS) since 1993.”

    Suleiman wasn’t just the go-to bureaucrat for when the Americans wanted to arrange a little torture. This “urbane and sophisticated man” apparently enjoyed a little rough stuff himself.

    Shortly after 9/11, Australian citizen, Mamdouh Habib, was captured by Pakistani security forces and, under US pressure, tortured by Pakistanis. He was then rendered (with an Australian diplomats watching) by CIA operatives to Egypt, a not uncommon practice. In Egypt, Habib merited Suleiman’s personal attention. As related by Richard Neville, based on Habib’s memoir:

    “Habib was interrogated by the country’s Intelligence Director, General Omar Suleiman…. Suleiman took a personal interest in anyone suspected of links with Al Qaeda. … Habib was repeatedly zapped with high-voltage electricity, immersed in water up to his nostrils, beaten, his fingers were broken and he was hung from metal hooks.”

    That treatment wasn’t enough for Suleiman, so:
    “To loosen Habib’s tongue, Suleiman ordered a guard to murder a gruesomely shackled Turkistan prisoner in front of Habib – and he did, with a vicious karate kick.”

    In 2009, Foreign Policy magazine ranked Omar Suleiman as the Middle East’s most powerful intelligence chief, ahead of Mossad chief Meir Dagan!

  3. And there is surprise that this man was not quickly embraced and seen as a solution? I was yelling at my radio the other day as NPR did a segment where an American diplomat praised this guy up and down as the answer. Profoundly out of touch. Thanks for the information.

    • Yes, and add to that ‘And there is surprise that this man is being put forth by Washington as America’s new man in Egypt!”

  4. […] “We refuse to sit with him,” El-Erian said Thursday, referring to Suleiman. To read more on newly-appointed Omar Suleiman […]

  5. […] began pressuring Mubarak to step down and be replaced by his newly appointed Vice President, Gen. Omar Suleiman. President Barak Obama, for example, dispatched former U.S. Ambassador, Frank Wisner, a close […]

  6. […] [That is to say] Mubarak and his inner circle produce another “orderly” process that maintains the regime – for instance, through Omar Suleiman. For more on Omar Suleiman […]

  7. […] for Suleiman, he looks to be a nasty piece of work. Suleiman oversaw an agreement with the United States in 1995 that allowed for suspected militants […]

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