News Item Archive - 2011

Suleiman’s reputation holds dread for some: Power shift to Egypt’s No. 2, one ‘who cracks heads,’ is keenly watched

From USA Today: He’s as unacceptable to the protesters as Mubarak. He has fully sided with Mubarak and has used threats to dissuade protesters,” says Fawaz Gerges, professor of Middle Eastern politics and international relations at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

“The long-quiescent population has had far more than enough of quasi-dictatorial rule,” says Edward Peck, a former diplomat who served in Egypt and Iraq and as U.S. ambassador to Mauritania. “To offer as his replacement, however temporarily, one of his most reprehensible subordinates is certainly not going to satisfy the demonstrators.”

Until he was appointed vice president last month, Suleiman was not well known outside of political and international circles. “The longer the limelight is on him, the less people like him. Part of the story is understanding his personal role in suppressing opposition and engaging in torture,” says Lisa Hajjar, an editor for the online Arab journal Jadaliyya. She recently wrote an article titled “Omar Suleiman, the CIA’s Man in Cairo and Egypt’s Torturer-in-Chief.”

Former CIA analyst Ray McGovern notes Suleiman’s reputation dates back to 1993, when he first became head of Egypt’s intelligence agency and began assisting the CIA in interrogating terrorism suspects during the Clinton and Bush administrations.

One person detained under the CIA’s “rendition” program — Egyptian-born U.S. citizen Mamdouh Habib — claimed he was tortured by Suleiman himself. In October 2001, Habib was turned over to the CIA by Pakistani security forces, then shipped to Egypt. In his memoirs, My Story: The Tale of a Terrorist Who Wasn’t, Habib says he was systematically tortured. At one point, his blindfold fell off and he saw Suleiman, the book says. Habib was never charged and ultimately released in 2005.

“Suleiman’s a thug wearing a silk tie; a really nasty, mean guy,” McGovern says. “He makes Mubarak look like a fuzzy puppy. A guy like that who gets into power is unlikely to let it go.” See full piece by Garry Strauss.

Chomsky: U.S. in Egypt “Following Usual Playbook”

Noam Chomsky on Democracy Now: “The United States, so far, is essentially following the usual playbook. I mean, there have been many times when some favored dictator has lost control or is in danger of losing control. There’s a kind of a standard routine—Marcos, Duvalier, Ceausescu, strongly supported by the United States and Britain, Suharto: keep supporting them as long as possible; then, when it becomes unsustainable—typically, say, if the army shifts sides—switch 180 degrees, claim to have been on the side of the people all along, erase the past, and then make whatever moves are possible to restore the old system under new names. That succeeds or fails depending on the circumstances. …”

Philip Rizk From Cairo on GRITtv

More GRITtv

Interview with Egyptian Student Activist now in U.S.

Interviewed by The Real News, Mohammed Ezzeldin is pro-democracy activist and a graduate of political science from Cairo University. Now working on his masters’ degree in history at Georgetown University, he was in Egypt ten days ago.

Interviews from Cairo

Flashpoints features interviews with: Hossam el-Hamalawy, Egyptian activist, journalist, and blogger based in Cairo. Alex Ortiz, American University, Cairo eyewitness accounts of the Cairo uprising and the use of Facebook, livestreaming and other social media and Jack Shenker, Guardian reporter, beaten and arrested (sound from Guardian).

Journalist Jack Shenker Among Those Beaten and Arrested in Cairo, Gets Audio from inside Police Truck

Democracy Now reports: “Police have arrested up to 1,200 people, including a number of journalists. Among them was Guardian reporter, Jack Shenker. He was arrested and beaten by plainclothes police on Tuesday night and shoved into a truck with dozens of other people. He managed to keep his dictaphone with him and recorded what was happening as the truck carried them outside of Cairo.”

Said Shenker: “There are big protests planned for tomorrow. Today is slightly a lull in the storm, although there’s a lot of violence still going on in Suez, which is a big city to the east of Cairo. In the capital itself, though, today has been a bit quieter. Activists are preparing for tomorrow. …

“There have been criticisms, rightly or wrongly, that ElBaradei has spent too much time out of the country, he hasn’t spent enough time on the streets with Egyptian protesters, where he could offer them protection through his fame. And there was a criticism, as well, because his initial response to these protests was quite lukewarm. He said that he didn’t want to see a Tunisia-style explosion on the streets of Cairo, and he would rather use existing avenues, including a petition, which he’s been—he’s collected almost one million signatures, for political reform. And obviously that doesn’t feel radical enough for a lot of the people who have been brought down to the streets in recent days. …

Bacevich on NPR about Eisenhowers’ “military-industrial complex”

NPR: “Before President Reagan urged Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to ‘tear down this wall,’ and even before President Kennedy told Americans to ask ‘what you can do for your country,’ President Dwight D. Eisenhower coined his own phrase about ‘the military-industrial complex.’ …

Andrew Bacevich is a retired career officer in the U.S. Army and professor of history and international relations at Boston University.

Phyllis Bennis on C-SPAN “In Depth”

Bennis is director of the New Internationalism Project at the Institute for Policy Studies. Her books include Calling the Shots: How Washington Dominates Today’s UN; Challenging Empire: How People, Governments and the UN Defy U.S. Power and a series of primers on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, the U.S.-Iran Crisis and the U.S. war in Afghanistan.

Watch here.