Since it was first mooted about eight years ago that the son of Hosni Mubarak was being groomed to take his place as president of Egypt, the Director of the country’s General Intelligence Services, Omar Suleiman has faced fierce competition for the top job. Meanwhile, the neo-con Zionist lobby has come to dominate the US Congress with the result that US foreign policy is more captive to Israeli interests than ever before.
When Mustafa Alfiqi, the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the Egyptian parliament, and one of the pillars of politics in the Mubarak era, said that Egypt’s president could do little without the “consent of the United States and no objection from Israel”, he was being entirely accurate. That requirement looks to be disappearing in the wake of the dignity revolution in Tunisia, where foreign approval is no longer a necessity, and the ongoing demonstrations in Egypt. The situation is so serious for Israel that it is calling on all of its allies, including the United States, to “protect” Mubarak’s regime.
It seems clear that Washington, at the request of the Zionist state, actually requested President Mubarak to appoint Omar Suleiman as his first ever Vice President with two aims: one, to put to rest claims that Mubarak is seeking to create a dynasty ruling Egypt by appointing his son as his successor; and two, in an attempt to calm the anger on the streets and have a smooth transition of power. To-date, this has not been successful. There is no doubt that Mubarak’s departure from the scene sooner rather than later would help to calm matters and allow Suleiman to introduce meaningful reforms prior to a free and fair election.
Omar Suleiman has courted and coveted this leading role for years, and has served US and Israeli interests well in the process; he is well-known in Israel and is regarded as a “friend” by politicians on the Israeli right and left. Mubarak could not refuse the instruction-request to appoint Suleiman, even though his preference is for his son to take over when he eventually steps down. The banning and persecution of the Muslim Brotherhood has in part been carried out to remove any serious opposition to his plans in this respect.
Suleiman is accused of opening the way for the Israelis to destroy Yasser Arafat and smooth the way for the current Palestinian leadership in Ramallah, Mahmoud Abbas and the Mohammad Dahlan bloc; a by-product of this was to challenge the Second (“Al-Aqsa”) Intifada, an act appreciated greatly in Israel.
The new Vice President has actually had a hand in a number of important aspects of the situation in Palestine, from supervision of the Palestinian legislative elections, to the arrangements for the siege of Gaza and the Hamas government; and the war in the Gaza Strip during which Suleiman struggled to persuade the Hamas negotiators to sue for a ceasefire, thus signalling a comprehensive defeat for the Islamic Resistance Movement. He failed, of course, and it was Israel which had to declare a ceasefire and withdrawal of its troops.
On a day to day level, it is down to Omar Suleiman to put pressure on the Palestinians to fulfil all of their obligations under previous agreements with the Israelis, including the collaboration on security matters in the occupied West Bank, and the ongoing siege of Gaza. He was instrumental in the natural gas deal struck with Israel which is so beneficial to the Zionist state, even though this is often attributed to Ahmed Ezz of Mubarak’s ruling National Party.
For all of these reasons and more, Israel is extremely worried about the current situation in Egypt; there is no question that they’d prefer to see Omar Suleiman taking over from Mubarak as president. Concerns about Hosni Mubarak’s health, with some people suggesting that he has but a couple of years to live, add a sense of urgency to the Israelis’ “protection” efforts.
If the Egyptian uprising ends with such a result, the only winner will be Israel, not only with regards to Egypt, but also because the Arab masses in other countries will think twice before staging their own people’s revolutions.
That the Egyptian people did not rise up for bread alone, but for freedom, pluralism, dignity, national security and sovereignty is a sign that they will not agree to “President Suleiman” taking office. Apart from anything else, Suleiman has been an integral part of the misery and oppression that they have faced for the past thirty years.
What is happening in Egypt will have repercussions across the Arab world from the Atlantic Ocean to the Gulf, for better or for worse. That is why Israel is so determined to protect the current regime and see Omar Suleiman assume power in Cairo. The people of Egypt cannot allow this to happen; they need to push for free and fair elections and the international community, including the US and Israel, must abide by their choice.
*This article is a translation from the Arabic which appeared on AlJazeera.net 01/02/11, the author is a Palestinian Jordanian.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.