So it seems that Israel and the U.S. decided in 2008 that Egypt’s torture chief is the man they’ve selected to replace Mubarak. Yes, I know there’s such a thing as balancing competing interests, but why is our political establishment so very comfortable with dictators and torturers? Am I supposed to be less morally outraged because it’s a Democratic administration moving the chess pieces?
Mr Suleiman, who is widely tipped to take over from Hosni Mubarak as president, was named as Israel’s preferred candidate for the job after discussions with American officials in 2008.
The details, which emerged in secret files obtained by WikiLeaks and passed to The Daily Telegraph, come after Mr Suleiman began talks with opposition groups on the future for Egypt’s government.
On Saturday, Mr Suleiman won the backing of Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State, to lead the “transition” to democracy after two weeks of demonstrations calling for President Mubarak to resign.David Cameron, the Prime Minister, spoke to Mr Suleiman yesterday and urged him to take “bold and credible steps” to show the world that Egypt is embarking on an “irreversible, urgent and real” transition.
Leaked cables from American embassies in Cairo and Tel Aviv disclose the close co-operation between Mr Suleiman and the US and Israeli governments as well as diplomats’ intense interest in likely successors to the ageing President Mubarak, 83.
The documents highlight the delicate position which the Egyptian government seeks to maintain in Middle East politics, as a leading Arab nation with a strong relationship with the US and Israel. By 2008, Mr Suleiman, who was head of the foreign intelligence service, had become Israel’s main point of contact in the Egyptian government.
Let’s put this into perspective: There are some very serious allegations against Suleiman and they deserve more attention than they’re getting. I posted this yesterday from Dave Bry at The Awl:
“The extraordinary rendition program landed some people in CIA black sites—and others were turned over for torture-by-proxy to other regimes. Egypt figured large as a torture destination of choice, as did Suleiman as Egypt’s torturer-in-chief. At least one person extraordinarily rendered by the CIA to Egypt — Egyptian-born Australian citizen Mamdouh Habib — was reportedly tortured by Suleiman himself.
… In October 2001, Habib was seized from a bus by Pakistani security forces. While detained in Pakistan, at the behest of American agents, he was suspended from a hook and electrocuted repeatedly. He was then turned over to the CIA, and in the process of transporting him to Egypt he endured the usual treatment: his clothes were cut off, a suppository was stuffed in his anus, he was put into a diaper—and ‘wrapped up like a spring roll’. In Egypt, as Habib recounts in his memoir, My Story: The Tale of a Terrorist Who Wasn’t, he was repeatedly subjected to electric shocks, immersed in water up to his nostrils and beaten. His fingers were broken and he was hung from metal hooks. At one point, his interrogator slapped him so hard that his blindfold was dislodged, revealing the identity of his tormentor: Suleiman.”
—Oh, no. At Al-Jazeera, UC Santa Barbara professor Lisa Hajjar writes an extremely damning of portrait of the
spyman overseeing Egypt’s “transition” to democracy. I’d like to be more optimistic about this. But it’s awfully difficult.