The American Bear


Omar Suleiman, Egypt’s former spy chief, The United States' favorite foreign torturer, Seinfeld's Uncle Leo Look-alike and very short term vice president, died on Thursday while undergoing medical treatment in the United States, according to Egyptian state media.

Mr. Suleiman, 76 years old, was known to have been gravely ill with an unannounced ailment. He died suddenly at a Cleveland hospital while undergoing medical tests.

His death bookends a period of tumultuous change in Egypt. Mr. Suleiman survived just long enough to see the presidential inauguration of Mohammed Morsi, a leader in the powerful Muslim Brotherhood that Mr. Suleiman spent the bulk of his career trying to suppress.

Omar Suleiman: Up and Down | As'ad AbuKhalil

[Make] no mistake about it: Suleiman’s candidacy was as much external as it was domestic. Saudi Arabia (and Israel and the US in toe) was clearly behind this candidacy and its mouthpiece, Al-Arabiya (the news station of King Fahd’s brother-in-law) promoted him as it had promoted Ayad Allawi in Iraq.

The US and Israel are nervous about the political transformation in Egypt and want to ensure that the election of Islamists to the Egyptian parliament would not endanger their precious Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty. The treaty is now as important to the US as is oil in the Gulf. Suleiman’s candidacy was an outside operation and is part of the counter-revolution. [++]

The Brotherhood vs. Suleiman | The Arabist

Egypt’s parliament voted yesterday to amend the law on political participation to ban high-ranking members of the former regime from running in the presidential elections. The amendment would disqualify Omar Suleiman and Ahmad Shafiq, but will certainly be challenged in court.

Today the Muslim Brotherhood has called for a “Defending the Revolution” rally in Tahrir that is really a protest against Suleiman’s candidacy. Many youth and protest groups are not participating, though — they’re holding their own rally later this month. The MB is reaping the mistrust it has sowed over the last year. They didn’t seem to think the revolution needed any defending when kids were getting maimed and shot and young women dragged across the ground and jumped up and down on by soldiers earlier this year.  

Meanwhile, Suleiman (cleaving to the criticism of the “Brother Muslimhood” he’s made since the first days of last year’s uprising) tells Al Ahram newspaper that the MB has high-jacked the revolution and that all they want is “revenge and to burn down the country.”

Suleiman mentions what a challenge it was to gather the necessary 30,000 notarized signatures in 11 hours, something I’ve wondered about myself — how did he get so many signatures so quickly? (with a little cooperation from the army, the police and some generous backers?)

The Egyptian parliament has passed a law banning top level Mubarak-era officials from running for presidency. The ban includes ex-vice president and intelligence chief Omar Suleiman, who was running for office.

I still can’t believe he had the minerals to try running in the first place.

Egypt presidential rivals share secretive past | Reuters


CAIRO (Reuters) - They sit at opposite ends of Egypt’s political spectrum and one of them was jailed by a government in which the other was chief of intelligence. Now they both want to be president.

The Muslim Brotherhood’s Khairat al-Shater and Hosni Mubarak’s head spy Omar Suleiman have moved firmly into the public eye as last-minute contenders in the presidential election, redrawing the electoral map just weeks before voting.

If available opinion polls can be trusted, they will have to make up ground on Amr Moussa, the former Egyptian foreign minister and Arab League chief who enjoys wide name recognition and has been on the campaign trail for a year.

But both Shater and Suleiman are expected to do well in the election due to be held in May and June. One is the representative of an Islamist group that is the country’s best organised party and the other is a former military man with establishment ties who is seen by his supporters as the best bet for an end to more than a year of turmoil.

Despite Suleiman’s denials, his candidacy is widely seen as being backed by the ruling army council and sets the stage for a ballot box fight between a leading symbol of Mubarak’s era and the Islamist movement banned under his rule. […]

The legacy of decades of mistrust between Suleiman and the Brotherhood has been on show since his candidacy was declared. Shater described Suleiman’s candidacy as an “insult” to the Egyptians who had risen up against Mubarak and he could only win if the election results were rigged.

Suleiman said he had received death threats from Brotherhood members, expecting he would win support from Egyptians who have not yet been engaged in politics but are now angered at what he described as the Islamist group’s attempts to assume a dominant role, a view heard from other politicians and analysts.

Among the pro-democracy activists who ignited the uprising against Mubarak, there is a sense that both candidacies are a sign of what has gone wrong in the last year.

In the case of Suleiman, they see confirmation of a plot by the ruling generals to crush any democratic transition by installing a president intimately associated with the Mubarak years - a fear analysts say is shared by the Islamists.

But Shater’s candidacy is also facing criticism from reformists who see it as proof of a Brotherhood plan to exploit their organisational strength to grab as much power as possible.

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