Wednesday, February 09, 2011

‘Sheik al-Torture’: Washington’s New Man in Cairo

by Pepe Escobar, Asia Times, Feb 8, 2011
 
CAIRO – The Egyptian revolution is being dissolved right in front of the world’s eyes by an optical illusion.


[Omar Suleiman, a former head of intelligence and now Vice-President of Egypt, is called 'Sheik al-Torture' by the nation pro-democracy protesters.  This is the man who the US government now backs to bring "reform" to Egypt. (Reuters)]
Omar Suleiman, a former head of intelligence and now Vice-President of Egypt, is called ‘Sheik al-Torture’ by the nation pro-democracy protesters. This is the man who the US government now backs to bring “reform” to Egypt. (Reuters)
 
The protesters who have been on the streets for two weeks still want President Hosni Mubarak out. Now. Yet United States President Barack Obama is firmly in not-so-fast mode, glad that “Egypt is making progress”. Obama has not mentioned even once the capital words “free elections”.

Washington’s “orderly transition” road map – fully supported by Tel Aviv and European capitals – is a facelift. Mubarak stepping down has become an afterthought; the already anointed successor is Vice President Omar Suleiman, the former head of the Mukhabarat, whom the protesters call “Sheik al-Torture”.

Sheik al-Torture already behaves as a president – while the actual president is still inhabiting his palace, but as a ghost. The regime, a brutal military dictatorship, remains an immovable subject – even while being denounced by the protesters as illegitimate from A to Z, from the executive to the legislative. The key point is that acting president Suleiman is the regime. If French philosopher Jean Baudrillard was alive, he would say this revolution never took place – except on the world’s television screens.

Some among the fragmented opposition want the head of the constitutional court to be appointed as interim president, and then preside over the election of a constituent assembly. Others – including the youth movement – want a national committee to supervise the Washington-sanctioned “orderly transition”.

Gilbert Achcar, professor of international relations at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, goes straight to the point, “In order to impose such a thorough change, the mass movement would need to break or destabilize the regime’s backbone, that is, the Egyptian army.”

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