Who is Omar Suleiman?
Al Jazeera’s video of Egypt President Hosni Mubarak swearing in intelligence chief Omar Suleiman as the first vice president of Egypt in nearly three decades has many clamoring to learn whatever they can about this person who may actually succeed Mubarak.
Suleiman, one of the long-serving national security technocrats in Egypt, has been a key manager of Egypt’s lucrative, military-aid lubed relationship with the United States and has been one of the key interlocutors with Israel.
One of the most disappointing encounters I had with Suleiman was during the time he led efforts to patch together a revived “unity government” in Palestine, tying back together Fatah and Hamas that had split in a bloody and violent civil war which resulted in each party governing different parts of Palestine.
Egypt was selected by the Arab League to lead these talks — and Suleiman became the Egyptian “George Mitchell” for these unity efforts. Fatah and Hamas came close several times to a deal — but ultimately, the United States privately conveyed to Mubarak and to Suleiman that it didn’t want to see the process succeed.
The Saudis who supported a restored unity government in Palestine were highly irritated when Egypt, supposedly brokering a rapprochement between Hamas and Fatah actually sabotaged the effort.
Suleiman, intel chief and now Egypt’s VP, was America’s proxy.
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