Moral Outrage
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Omar Suleiman and the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood

Omar Suleiman, Egypt’s recently appointed vice-president, has previously harshly criticized Egypt’s opposition Muslim Brotherhood in his communications with US officials, according to leaked US diplomatic cables.

The revelations came as Suleiman met opposition leaders, including the Muslim Brotherhood, on Sunday in a bid to end a political crisis that has seen hundreds of thousands of people take to the streets in opposition to Hosni Mubarak, Egypt’s president. The inclusion of the Brotherhood in the opposition’s talks with Suleiman on Sunday are considered significant as the group is formally banned in Egypt, although its activities are tolerated.

But the leaked cables raise questions over whether the former intelligence chief can be seen as an honest broker in any negotiations. In the cables, obtained by the Reuters news agency through the whistle-blowing organization WikiLeaks, Suleiman is reported to have told US officials that the Muslim Brotherhood was creating armed groups.

In a cable dated February 15, 2006, Francis Ricciardone, then the US ambassador to Egypt, reported that Suleiman had “asserted that the MB [Muslim Brotherhood] had spawned ’11 different Islamist extremist organizations’, most notably the Egyptian Islamic Jihad and the Gama’a Islamiya [Islamic Group]”.

The cable, which uses the spelling “Soliman”, goes on to say: “The principal danger, in Soliman’s view, was the group’s exploitation of religion to influence and mobilize the public.”

It continues: “Soliman termed the MB’s recent success in the parliamentary elections as ‘unfortunate’, adding his view that although the group was technically illegal, existing Egyptian laws were insufficient to keep the MB in check.” (The elections referred to were those in November and December in 2005, in which the Brotherhood made substantial gains.)

Reuters said the cables implied that US officials were skeptical of Suleiman’s portrayal of the Muslim Brotherhood, but officials have not commented on the issue.

[Aljazeera]

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One Response to “Omar Suleiman and the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood”

  1. The Muslim Brotherhood, a key opposition group in Egypt’s anti-Mubarak protests, has long argued that the Egyptian government exaggerates its positions and its likelihood of attaining power in democratic elections.

    As it turns out, American diplomats agree.

    “The Egyptians have a long history of threatening us with the MB bogeyman,” wrote Ambassador Francis Ricciardone to FBI Director Robert Mueller in 2005, in a newly released U.S. embassy cable obtained by WikiLeaks.

    Another cable from 2006 stated:
    “We do not accept the proposition that Egypt’s only choices are a slow-to-reform authoritarian regime or an Islamist extremist one; nor do we see greater democracy in Egypt as leading necessarily to a government under the MB.”


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