Profiling Omar Suleiman: "One Of The Most Powerful Spooks In The Middle East"

Tyler Durden's picture

A must read profile of who Egpyt's "Next Strongman" would be comes from Foreign Policy Magazine from August 17, 2009, when the publication presented the two clear choices: Gamal Mubarak (last seen in London) and Omar Suleiman, the man just announced as Vice President. In a nutshell: this is just "more of the same" type of political tactics, certainly with the blessing of the US and the US' power interests in the middle east.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak arrived in Washington today, bringing with him a large retinue of advisors, ministers, and assorted hangers-on. But only two of them really count, at least for those trying to figure out who will succeed one of the Middle East's longest-serving leaders.

The first is Mubarak's son Gamal, who is accompanying his father even though he has no formal position in the Egyptian government. (He is the assistant secretary-general of the ruling National Democratic Party, or NDP.) A more justified member of the entourage is Omar Suleiman, the head of Egypt's General Intelligence Service (GIS), known as the Mukhabarat.

Each has been touted for most of the past decade as a potential heir to the 81-year-old Mubarak, who has never appointed a vice president or publicly stated his preference for a successor. Most speculation in Egypt focuses on Gamal. His rise to political prominence earlier this decade spurred opposition figures to form the "Kefaya" movement, which rallies against both Mubaraks. But many well-informed Egyptians think the next president will come from the military -- and that the powerful Suleiman is the most likely candidate.

This is not a fringe sentiment. The prolonged fin de régime mood has unnerved many Egyptians, who worry that a Syrian-style inheritance-of-power scenario would usher in an era of instability. Many consider the prospect of such father-to-son nepotism humiliating for a country that has long claimed the mantle of Arab leadership. In this political environment -- in which democratic alternatives are locked out, but the population wants change -- Suleiman appears the only viable alternative to Gamal Mubarak. But who is this once-mysterious power player? And would he really mean a new era for Egypt?

Like the elder Mubarak, Suleiman rose to national prominence through the armed forces. The arc of his career followed the arc of Egypt's political history. He attended the Soviet Union's Frunze Military Academy in the 1960s -- as Mubarak did a few years earlier -- and became an infantryman. He then took part in the 1967 and 1973 Arab-Israeli wars, likely as a staff officer. When Cairo switched its strategic alliance from Moscow to Washington, he received training at the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare School and Center at Fort Bragg, N.C., in the 1980s. Suleiman continues to have privileged contacts with U.S. intelligence and military officials, with whom he has now been dealing for at least a quarter-century.

As the head of the Mukhabarat, Suleiman's political and military portfolio is vast. The GIS combines the intelligence-gathering elements of the CIA, the counterterrorism role of the FBI, the protection duties of the Secret Service, and the high-level diplomacy of the State Department. It also includes some functions unique to authoritarian regimes, such as monitoring Egypt's security apparatus for signs of internal coups. It is an elite institution, with a long reach inside government as well as abroad. It also crosses over the civilian and military worlds: Suleiman is one of a rare group of Egyptian officials who hold both a military rank (lieutenant general) and a civilian office (he is a cabinet minister, though he rarely attends meetings).

Traditionally, the identity of the head of the GIS is kept secret. But after 2001, when Suleiman began to take over key dossiers from the Foreign Ministry, his name and photograph began appearing in Al-Ahram, the staid government-owned daily. He even appeared on the top half of the front page, a space usually reserved for Mubarak. Since then, his high-profile assignments have garnered high-profile coverage. He has intervened in civil wars in Sudan, patched up the tiff between Saudi King Abdullah and Libyan leader Muammar el-Qaddafi over the latter's alleged attempt to assassinate the former, and put pressure on Syria to stop meddling in Lebanon and to dissociate itself from Iran.

Most importantly, Suleiman has mediated in the Israel-Palestine conflict, Egypt's most pressing national security priority. Since the June 2007 Hamas takeover of Gaza, Cairo has acted as an interlocutor and mediator between Hamas and Fatah. Although its attempts to reconcile the two groups have led to few clear victories -- in part, perhaps, because Egypt is clearly hostile to the Islamists -- its foreign policy has won the approval of the United States and the European Union.


taking control of Gaza was a major setback for Suleiman, whose agents had,
until that point, played an important role in the territory. His attempts at Palestinian
reconciliation, which petered out by December 2008, were also unsuccessful,
prompting some diplomats to wonder if his reputation was undeserved. But since last
winter's Gaza war, Suleiman has regained standing. Egypt emerged out of that
conflict once again with its role confirmed as an essential mediator in the
Middle East peace process. Indeed, Suleiman is now arguably the region's most
important troubleshooter --
Foreign Policy recently listed him as one of
the most
powerful spooks
in the Middle East.

isn't surprising, then, that he is so often described as a likely successor to
Mubarak, who is showing increasingly signs of frailty. Every president of Egypt
since 1952 has been a senior military officer, and the military remains, by
most measures, the most powerful institution in Egypt.

Suleiman has started to gain endorsements for the job from Egyptians across the
political spectrum as the increasingly public discussion plays out of who will
follow Mubarak. A leftist leader of the Kefaya movement, Abdel Halim Qandil,
has urged the military to save the country from a Mubarak dynasty. The liberal
intellectual Osama Ghazali Harb -- a former Gamal acolyte who turned to the
opposition and founded the National Democratic Front party -- has openly
a military takeover followed by a period of "democratic
transition." Hisham Kassem, head of the Egyptian Organization for Human
Rights, also has stated that a Suleiman presidency would be vastly preferable
to another Mubarak one. On Facebook, Twitter, and blogs, partisans of a
Suleiman presidency make the same argument, often seemingly driven as much by
animosity toward the Mubaraks as admiration for the military man.

amendments made in 2005 and 2007 to the Egyptian Constitution's provisions for
presidential elections might have rendered Suleiman's candidacy moot. Active-duty
military officers are not allowed membership in political parties, meaning Suleiman
would have to retire before running. Then, candidates must be members of their
party's highest internal body for at least one year before the election, a
significant obstacle for Suleiman. Plus, it is virtually impossible for
independent candidates to run; to get on the ballot, candidates must garner the
support of numerous elected officials, most of whom are NDP members and
presumably loyal to Gamal Mubarak. And, finally, the NDP is a powerful electoral
machine, closely connected to security services at the local and national level.

other words, most Suleiman supporters recognize that to gain the presidency he
would most likely have to carry out a coup -- perhaps a soft, constitutional
one, but a coup nonetheless. (It is possible, one analyst told me, that "the
day Mubarak dies there will be tanks on the street.") Strange though it
sounds, many Egyptians would find such a coup acceptable. The amendments to the
Constitution were broadly viewed as illegitimate, and the regime's standing may
be at an all-time low.

a coup would prove more problematic for Egypt's foreign allies. Washington would
likely be embarrassed by the rise of a new strongman, particularly after nearly
a decade of fanfare around democracy promotion in Egypt. But what would the

United States do about it, particularly if the plotters were pro-American and
the strongman broadly supported?

scenarios are possible, of course. Gamal Mubarak could successfully make his
bid for the presidency and keep Suleiman in place -- perhaps as the power
behind the throne, or simply a guarantor of the military's corporate interests.
Some previously unknown military figure could emerge as a contender. Or Hosni
Mubarak could hang on to power, running again in 2011 at the ripe old age of
. (Suleiman will be 75.)

Most important is the conclusion, that with the nomination of Suleiman, nothing at all changes:

in this Egyptian Kremlinology is the fact that neither Gamal Mubarak nor Omar
Suleiman presents a clear departure from the present state of affairs.
offers the new social contract that so many of Egypt's 80 million citizens are
demanding in strikes and protests. The prevalence of the Gamal vs. Omar debate,
more than anything, highlights the low expectations ordinary Egyptians have for
a democratic succession to Hosni Mubarak's 28-year reign. Those low
expectations come with their own quiet tyranny, too.

In a nutshell: this appointment will do nothing to pacify the millions of rioting citizens, and if it stands it will perpetuate the same kinds of policies and US power interests in the region to which the people have said enough.

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Rainman's picture

Shucks...Obeyme was hoping for a community organizer.

dwdollar's picture

A spook with the CIA's nod no doubt.

Nassim's picture

It is interesting to see ordinary demonstrators' opinion on this latest prime minister

"I told the demonstrators on the tank around me the news of Suleiman's appointment, they burst into laughter. "

It is a bit like trying to make the chief of East Germany's Stasi prime minister as Erich Honecker is on his way to the door marked "Saudi Arabia"

Monkey Craig's picture

any connections to Mossad? CIA?

Twindrives's picture

Why not?   We have Spook Soetoro in the Oval Office here in the USSA.

downwiththebanks's picture

You mean the UCSA, right?

Since that's what Uncle Sam's plantation has.

downwiththebanks's picture

And now the 'looters' come out.  

These are Omar's provocateurs, no doubt.

dwdollar's picture

So that's where the police went...  they turned into looters.

Dr. Porkchop's picture

Defence ministry announced that they will be 'dealing' with the looters and that people should respect the curfew. They are desperate to get people off of the streets.


They keep talking about 'reports' of looters, but no pictures. Sounds like disinformation.

SDRII's picture

it was all planned three years

Dr. Porkchop's picture

They've already lost, perhaps they don't know it. This thing has spread across multiple countries. They aren't afraid anymore.

I am sure the the State department put Mubarak up to this charade of announcing a new government so they don't have to worry about pretending to like a new government that would actually do something for people.

Boilermaker's picture

BINGO.  What's more is that the army and the police have shown little to no willingness to turn on it's citizenry.  If you don't have that loyalty, then your dictatorship is OVER.  This will continue to spill into other countries.  It's a revolt of the poor and, frankly, it's about time!

Mr Lennon Hendrix's picture
The Watcher

The levels.....


$105.....Brent checks.

So now we are waiting on silver and gold.....

Next week should start with platinum as volatile as ever,  Gold and silver will then touch their recent highs (gold $1400 and silver $31).  Platinum will be around $1850 by that time with Brent pushing $105 and WTI catching up quick.  This will all come together by Mid February at the latest.  Then on the back of an Irish default/Spain bailout, the Euro will begin to capitulate.  The dollar will rise but not as fast as the trinity.  Oil will seem subdued at $105.

Then Muni madness will descend on America.  The dollar vs Euro will be the most pointless exercise ever upon open markets.  Both are worthless and both will fail.  The trinity and oil will rise while the currentseas wash, rinse, repeat.

I also want to point out one thing.  Do you see that straight up tick on gold?  The one before gold slumped into the weekend?  That was a large gold sale.  What the COMEX does is time their sales specifically throughout the day to quell the market.  Before the start of the day, the amount total is decided.  This is why big monie disrupts the market.  The COMEX is not ready for big orders.

The LBMA do it to.  It is the manipulation in action.  The big drops in price are the opposite.  When there is a straight down move it was a buyer reaching down.  It is down when both sides of the trades are controlled.  This is the control the Fed shares with JPM et al.  There is your manipulation in action.

Gold will sell off after the big up moves, and it will rise after the down moves.  Everyone is panning gold right now, and the person who is most patient will get the bullion.  Staying with the gold in the long run is the best bet.  When you have the nuts, you stay in the pot.

Oil is going to double with the protesting in Egypt and the rest of Northern Africa.  If it spreads to the Middle East, then oil will double again.  Because silver tracks oil it will double, too.  Silver tracks oil because oil needs something to measure its worth besides the dollar.  The dollar does not really value anything.  The dollar's relationship vs real goods is inverse and as you see there is no contest between them.  The dollar has never won a round.  It is a wonder how she has managed to stay in the game this long.

The dollar may not make it through the Suez canal, but if it does make it to the Mid East, could it get to China?  If the dollar's death happens on China's watch, there will be a funeral right away.  Ask yourself why the world is rioting?  The do not like the dollar.  The do not like this way of finance.  What will replace it? 

Offered up like a cheap dinner, Zoelick and friends will try to have a gold backed currency served to the world.  If the bankers are still in charge, it will not be to the benefit of the people.  Any form of usury is a horrible idea.  We call populations names like cities and states.  Maybe that is as big as government should get.  A government that holds power over hundreds of millions of people is bloated.  Government needs to be agile, for life happens fast.  End the Fed and let them all fail should have happened in place of the first QE, TARP.

 The road to nowhere started by Bill Clinton continues.  Boomers think they have their bases covered.  They have homes and a pension coming.  They saw their kids through school and wish them the best.  They drink beer like they are in college and tune out all the rest.  The have there jobs but only for a little longer.  It is the funniest thing to watch, this utter complacency.  And I am not trying to single anyone out, the "Greatest Generation" were tricked into thinking Hitler was not a puppet of the New World Order.  Today's kids have there heads up their asses.

So when the dollar gets washed by the rest of the world, what will come of America?  Would the places Americans refer to as "Third World" and "Developing Nations" starve while America collapses?  Who would have believed that.  Soon enough riots and protests will come to America.  It will be because the government is spent, but it will be fueled bu high oil prices.

I think the real issue is if America's infrastructure can hold up on expensive oil.  How many people in LA will not afford their commute?  What happens to Natural gas prices?  Some cities will shut down.  Suburbs will be non functional.  What will Americans do? 

The house of cards is falling, and America watches.  America has become a country of voyeurs.  The culture was taught to watch with tools like the television.  The country has not needed to act except in faux exercises like the September 11th bombing.  Then they play hide and seek with ghosts of opium dealers.  America has chased the vapors for decades and decades.  If America does not stand up now, it will turn into the countries it is watching.

DoChenRollingBearing's picture

Mr Lennon, very good!  Sounds like you have been reading James Kuntsler.


Slightly O/T but probably of interest to you would be thinking about how Europe will react if/when the other side of the Med Sea turns fundamentalist Muslim.  Egypt, that puts them at some oil risk because of the Suez Canal.  Algeria and Morocco because of their sizable populations in France and Spain.  Same with Tunisia.  Who's left?  Oh, Libya, comforting thought.

I hear you and am with you about our own bloat here in the USA.  Big bad DEBT.  It will not be pretty here either.  I have slowly been getting prepared for years, but still have a long way to go.

Mr Lennon Hendrix's picture

I have begun to read Clusterf***Nation on a weekly basis.  I read the Long Emergency last year.  He is a brilliant writer, and I agree with almost everything he thinks.

America is the wild funny does that sound?

Dr. Porkchop's picture

I've been listening to the kunstlercast for a long time now. Good stuff on there. He really hates tattoos though.

Mr Lennon Hendrix's picture

Maybe he thinks of them as a waste of ink.

dick cheneys ghost's picture

double digit inflation in Pakistan. is pakistan next?

redpill's picture

I have an idea, why not hold an election?

Bunch of pricks.

Mr Lennon Hendrix's picture

Good idea.  Could someone get Diebold on the phone?

Catullus's picture

Question: can anyone actually confirm this announcement or did they just blast it over state media and everyone assumes it's true?

Dr. Porkchop's picture

So the protestors are defying the curfew, they are determined and out in number, and they clearly don't accept Suleiman. There is momentum. What will the regime do next? One last desperate move to crack down? The State dept. and Israel, I would wager are putting pressure on the regime to end this. Surely they can see how truly fucked they are.

redpill's picture

They were fucked a long time ago. Violent revolution doesn't take place unless the populace has very little to lose, which is a societal destruction that takes a long time to cause and even longer to fix. The notion that appointing some jackass as VP will quell the mob demonstrates how few options they have an how clueless they really are.

Tartarus's picture

Given the reports that the U.S. may have been secretly backing the protest leaders for years, fully aware they planned to remove Mubarak this year, it makes one wonder if this was the angle all along. Create a crisis where everyone has to get behind Suleiman.

downwiththebanks's picture

Uncle Sam always has an interest in controlling social protest.  

But this isn't going according to their plan at all.  

They're fucked now, which explains why the Interior Ministry has unleashed their goons.  No doubt that word came down from Panetta.

Dr. Porkchop's picture

Al Jazeera reports that people detained some of the 'looters' and discovered id on them that tied them to the regime's security arm.

john milton's picture

New protests erupt in Yemen

"But what's most important now is the jasmine revolution," Karman said, who is also a senior member of the opposition Islamist Al-Islah (Reform) party and heads a rights group, Women Journalists Without Chains.

Karman also called for Thursday, February 3 to be a "Day of rage" throughout Yemen.

bens car will be up in a forklift soon

Tic tock's picture

Egyptian army, 11th largest, american weaponry, what if a non-American, Hamas-supporting party ascended? Goodbye blokade of Palestine. The Us and Israel will do 'anything' to prevent the only other political force in Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood, from becoming the government...

Dr. Porkchop's picture

Then the US and Israel, like a cornered and wounded animal, would probably do something desperate. The end result being Egypt becoming a smoking crater.

nonclaim's picture

Not sure about "cornered and wounded"...

You have to take into consideration if the Egyptian army hierarchy will accept anyone as their new leader. Would you accept a radical that will send you into a death trap, a meaningless war?

If you control the tanks you make the rules.

fellatio is not fattening's picture

I wonder if he is related to Nadia Suleiman (Octomom) she looks arabic, her babies daddy (all 8) hasn't been around, and she refused to do porn for her house being paid-off (arabs don't do porn)  hhhmmm

Catullus's picture

Just as logical as some of the connections people have been making the past 3 days.

gwar5's picture

I'm guessing naming the head of the spy agency as Vice President is not going to go over well in Egypt.

snowball777's picture

Posit: Mubarak has reached out to this spook because he believes it is his only chance to maintain control of the Egyptian military.


walcott's picture

Soon the military will open fire wholesale.

Then the sticks and girlish rock throws will end.

Never give up your right to bear arms America.

Look at the protestors in these countries.

They always go home in a few days.

snowball777's picture

Whereas we're armed to the teeth, but can't be bothered to protest.

walcott's picture

The saudi people cry out from their Leer jets -

"bring us sugar and a 2011 mercedes! Or we will have to cast our

designer sun glasses to pavement. And maybe even step on them"

allah akbar!!

skepsis101's picture

A very sad day in a cradle of human civilization, but what else is new?  Mssr. Suleiman, a Solomon not.  Expect the extreme in repression and a clear sign of what the USSA 'must do' to keep control of oil in the ME, and its reserve currency status.  But what we all should be fixing our brains on right now is our recollection of the extraordinary Egyptian faces of pride and determination witnessed all last week, and then the fear and humiliation you will see next week, as the iron fist falls.  Then know why there will be no revolt of the eventual mass of dispossessed and unemployed American workers and middle class.  This is a warning!

If, as I would suspect, the trajectory of events was well thought out many days ago, perhaps even planned long in advance, the military-to-military liaison will have gone hyperactive over the last two weeks.  The puppet masters do not reside in Cairo, rest assured.   And Mr. Obama looks more and more the stooge, complicit by his very impotence.  Tread lightly, everyone.