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Thursday, February 10, 2011

Egypt VP Omar Suleiman's storied, torturous past, and uncertain future

Regarding Egypt's Vice President Omar Suleiman, protest leader Wael Ghonim has a succinct message: "You are not going to stop us."

Omar Suleiman unsuitable as Egypt's transitional leader

We want any person who was not part of the previous government. We don't believe in Omar Suleiman or Ahmad Shafiq - we want the whole system to be changed.

- Alexandria protester

Many of those involved in the 2011 Egyptian protests, which began on January 25, 2011, oppose Omar Suleiman taking over power from Mubarak without elections taking place, and are calling for an immediate transition of power. Human rights groups tie Suleiman’s career to a regime marked by widespread abuses and assert that many Egyptians "see Suleiman as Mubarak II."

Reporters, victims of torture, and human rights groups charge that, as head of Egypt's main intelligence agency, Suleiman had overseen the systematic use of torture on detainees, sometimes at the behest of the United States, and that in at least one instance he personally tortured a detainee. In response to international condemnation of the regime's brutal reaction to peaceful political protests, Suleiman countered by blaming the popular uprising on external influences and went on to warn street demonstrators of potential martial law.

Egyptian protesters in Tahrir Square

Bio of Egypt's Omar Suleiman

Suleiman was born in Qena in Southern Egypt. He left Qena for Cairo in 1954, at the age of nineteen, to enroll in Egypt's prestigious Military Academy. He received additional military training in the former Soviet Union at Moscow's Frunze Military Academy. He is known to have participated in both the Six-Day and Yom Kippur wars.

In the mid-1980's he earned additional degrees: a bachelor's degree from Ain Shams University and a master's degree from Cairo University, both in political science. Suleiman was transferred to military intelligence and, fluent in English, he began what was to be a long relationship between Egypt and the United States.

From 1993 until his appointment to Vice president on January 29, 2011, General Suleiman was Minister without Portfolio and Director of the Egyptian General Intelligence Directorate (EGID), the national intelligence agency. Prior to heading the intelligence service, Suleiman was a military and military intelligence officer.

Sources: wikipedia.org, globaltvbc.com

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