New cables released by Wikileaks reveal that the U.S. government has been quietly anticipating as well as cultivating Omar Suleiman, the Egyptian spy chief, as the top candidate to take over the country should anything happen to President Hosni Mubarak. On Saturday, this expectation was proved correct when Mubarak named Suleiman to the post of vice-president making him the first in line to assume power.
An intelligence official who trained at the U.S. Special Warfare School at Fort Bragg, Suleiman became head of the spy agency in 1993 which brought him into close contact with the Central Intelligence Agency. Recently he took up a more public role as chief Egyptian interlocuter with Israel to discuss the peace process with Hamas and Fatah, the rival Palestinian factions.
In recent years most political analysts have assumed that the heir apparent was Gamal Mubarak, the president’s younger son, but the U.S. embassy in Cairo came to a different conclusion more than five years ago. On 15 June 2005, a memo (05CAIRO4534) written for Timothy Pounds, the director for Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, and North Africa at U.S. National Security Council, noted: “(A)ll agreed that the most likely candidate to be appointed to the post (of vice-president) was General Omar Soliman, Director of the Egyptian General Intelligence Service (EGIS).” (State department officials use a different spelling of Suleiman’s name)