All Eyes On Suleiman


by Chris Bodenner

Stephen J. Smith sums up the recent behavior of the Egyptian vice president, who has stepped to the forefront of the regime since Mubarak announced last week that he won't run for reelection:

Despite his highly publicized meetings with opposition groups, the limited concessions and promises of future liberalization are not promising. Suleiman's torturous ways have apparently not let up, with his dreaded Mukhabarat running makeshift torture chambers across Cairo, according to two New York Times reporters who witnessed one firsthand. When the opposition Wafd Party asked Suleiman if he was considering lifting the decades-old state of emergency, which allows the government to arrest and detain with impugnity, the longtime intelligence chief responded incredulously, "At a time like this?"

The Obama administration last night explicitly called on Suleiman to end the emergency law, perhaps to quell the criticism it received after Clinton's words of support for Suleiman on Saturday. That air of support was reinforced by new revelations from Wikileaks published yesterday showing how the Israeli government has viewed him as the preferred successor to Mubarak. Greenwald turns up the heat on both governments, as well as the NYT's coverage:

Suleiman's repression and brutality -- on behalf of both the U.S. and Mubarak -- has been well-documented elsewhere (The New Yorker's Jane Mayer was the first to flag it after the Egyptian uprising, while ABC News recounted how he once offered to chop off the arm of a Terrorist suspect to please the CIA ... [Tuesday]'s Times article does a decent job of conveying how unwilling Suleiman is to bring about anything resembling a real transition to democracy, how indifferent (if not supportive) the Obama administration seems to be about that unwillingness, and how dangerously that conduct is fueling anti-American sentiment among the protesters.  But the fact that American policy has "changed" from imposing Mubarak on that country to imposing someone with Suleiman's vile history and character belongs at the forefront of every discussion, especially ones purporting to examine who he is.

Marc Lynch has more hope for the administration. Meanwhile, Suleiman's patience with the protesters is wearing thin.

(Photo: In April 22, 2009, Egypt's intelligence chief Omar Suleiman is in Jerusalem for a first high-level meeting between an Egyptian official and Israel's new hard-line government. By Tara Todras-Whitehill/AP)