Our Torturer, Omar Suleiman, Wants to Be President–Will We Help Him?

[youtube]iTk-bxm4sq8[/youtube]

After earlier stating he would not run in the upcoming Egyptian Presidential race, Omar Suleiman announced on Friday he would file to run for President (with the Army’s help gathering the 30,000 signatures he would need to collect in just one day).

Omar Suleiman, one of the most powerful figures of Mubarak’s regime, had said earlier this week that he would not run. But he said he changed his mind after hundreds of people rallied in Cairo to support a bid.

[snip]

Hundreds rallied Friday in Cairo to call for him to run for president.

Suleiman said that helped change his mind.

“I can only meet the call and run in the presidential race, despite the constraints and difficulties I made clear in my former statement,” he said in a statement carried by the official MENA news agency on Friday. He said he faces administrative obstacles, but did not elaborate.

The AJE piece above describes how the Presidential race has devolved into all sides responding to Islamists–who had a big win in Parliamentary elections–deciding to run. Suleiman’s decision seems to be just another step in that process.

Mr. Suleiman’s decision raises the possibility that, one year after an uprising that was spurred in part by the Mubarak regime’s brutality, torture, and oppression, one of the architects of that repression could become Egypt’s first post-Mubarak president.

Some see his candidacy as a response by Egypt’s military rulers to the Muslim Brotherhood’s recent decision to field a presidential candidate – a decision that broke a year-long promise to stay out of the race. Omar Ashour, a visiting fellow at the Brookings Doha Center in Qatar, says Suleiman’s candidacy raises the possibility that the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), which is currently ruling Egypt, may rig the elections to favor the former intelligence chief.

Some observers suggest Suleiman’s move is just be an effort to make Amr Moussa look credible by comparison.

But as Jeff Stein reviews, in many ways he’d be the most palatable candidate to the West, largely because of our long history of cooperating with him on things like torturing Ibn Shaikh al-Libi to generate propaganda with which to start the Iraq War. People predicted Suleiman might succeed Hosni Mubarak long before the Arab Uprising.

“An open question is whether he can count on help from his longtime friends in the CIA,” I wrote back in January 2011.

“Ask who they posit as a possible successor,” a State Department expert on the region told me then. “Bet you a beer, the name Omar Suleiman comes up more often than most.”

The Wall Street Journal’s Jerusalem correspondent, Charles Levinson, also saw it coming, I wrote.

In a December 2010 piece, Levinson pronounced Suleiman “the most likely successor … President Mubarak’s closest aide, charged with handling the country’s most sensitive issues.

“He also has close working relations with the U.S. and a lifetime of experience inside Egypt’s military and intelligence apparatus,” Levinson wrote.

Likewise, the Voice of America said on Jan. 28, 2011, “Suleiman is seen by some analysts as a possible successor to the president.”

“He earned international respect for his role as a mediator in Middle East affairs and for curbing Islamic extremism.”

An editorialist at Pakistan’s “International News” also predicted that “Suleiman will probably scupper his boss’s plans [to install his son], even if the aspiring intelligence guru himself is as young as 75.”

Given the timing, I’m not sure Suleiman–or his backers, possibly including the US–have thought through what they hope to accomplish with his candidacy, or what efforts they plan to use to steal the election.

But since the Muslim Brotherhood won the Parliamentary election, the US seems to have jettisoned even the lofty rhetoric about seeing democracy in the Middle East (it was rarely backed by action), in favor of the authoritarian partners we know. At that level, Suleiman’s decision to run may well reflect as badly on the US as it does on Egypt’s Supreme Council of the Armed Forces.

Tweet about this on Twitter10Share on Reddit0Share on Facebook4Google+0Email to someone

5 Responses to Our Torturer, Omar Suleiman, Wants to Be President–Will We Help Him?

Emptywheel Twitterverse
emptywheel @gregorydjohnsen No but don't they consider that notice to Congress "good enough"?
44mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel @B_Amer Forgot you had taken some. Hope all is going well. Does the young one start school this week? Or did she? @alreinke
47mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel RT @ClipperChip: Seventeen mysterious cellphone towers that attack cellphones via baseband to eavesdrop traffic found in the US http://t.co
47mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz RT @cody_k: Gotta love dolts that come around sticking Smith v. Maryland in my face like I couldn't possibly have ever seen it in this nat…
5hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz RT @MiroCollas: Cat entertains himself with head-mounted laser pointer. http://t.co/GW5CFZllhB LMAO! Evil!!
5hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @cody_k Kind of surprised it took Cesca 17 hours to hop on that. He's slipping!
5hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz RT @cody_k: Right on cue... here comes govt leak prosecutor @bobcesca_go to the rescue. @cenkuygur
5hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @NSCPress @JasonLeopold I ask again: When is 60 days up on a continuously rolling and evolving set of WPR "Notifications" for same conflict?
5hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @VBalasubramani I knew there would be negative effects from the legalization of pot up there!
6hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @JamesFallows His strokes would still be all time world class great. But he would be pretty annoying.
8hreplyretweetfavorite
JimWhiteGNV @litbrit What I found on those McCain pics: http://t.co/hO60jHA93E
8hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @pbump Gotta say, between those and the Reefer Madness type of drug videos, it was hard to take growing up seriously.
9hreplyretweetfavorite
April 2012
S M T W T F S
« Mar   May »
1234567
891011121314
15161718192021
22232425262728
2930