General Omar Suleiman, former General Intelligence Chief and vice president under Mubarak’s regime, has passed away this morning as he was undergoing heart surgery in a hospital in Cleveland, US at the age of 76.
Suleiman was born on July 2, 1936 in Qena, Upper Egypt, and held the position of chief intelligence officer from January 1993 until January 29, 2011 when former President Hosni Mubarak appointed him Vice President.
Suleiman graduated the Military Academy and joined the Armed Forces to be later trained in Frunze Military Academy in the Soviet Union.
He went back to university to get a bachelor’s degree in political sciences and a master’s degree in the same field from Cairo University as well as a master’s degree in military sciences.
He took part in the 1962 Yemen conflict and the 1967 and 1973 wars with Israel. His dedicated and loyal efforts to the army has lead him to the position of Chief General Intelligence Officer in 1993, at the age of 56. He has then gained even more popularity as he saved Mubarak from an assassination attempt in Ethiopia.
In his capacity as intelligence chief, Suleiman has gained both respect and fear. Although he was known for his loyalty, intelligence, power and a perfect English that made him the liaison between Egypt and the US, Suleiman was also a feared intelligence officer known for his crackdown on Islamists and terrorists. He was said to be the CIA’s point man in Egypt for a covert renditions program that dealt with terrorists from around the world, in cooperation with the Egyptian intelligence service. He was blamed for allowing the use of violence and torture against detainees.
Those factors made Suleiman unfavorable to the Islamists in Egypt, especially the Muslim Brotherhood, as well as human rights groups and activists.
Suleiman was also a mediator in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations and lead several prisoner exchange operations with Israel and Palestine.
Although Mubarak has never had a vice president during his 30 years in post, there was much speculations that Mubarak intended to appoint Suleiman vice president in the past few years. Suleiman’s supporters publicly demanded Mubarak to appoint him in post, which he finally did as protests broke out and as part of several reforms Mubarak announced on January 29, 2011.
As Mubarak gave his final speech as president on February 10, 2011, he has announced an informal stepping down to Suleiman who has then announced on February 11, 2011 that Mubarak has officially stepped down and relented his authority to the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF). This was the end of Suleiman’s post as vice president and service in the public sector.
Suleiman has made a comeback to the public arena as he announced his bid for presidency on April 6, 2012, only two days before the deadline for submitting official paperwork for elections was due. He said he is yielding to the popular demands and his supporters who held several marches asking him to run for presidency. His bid was met with mixed feelings from his supporters who saw him as the way out of an Islamist rule and young revolutionaries and Islamists who saw him as a comeback of the old guard.
On April 14, however, the Higher Elections Committee has announced he has been eliminated from the presidency race. The committee claimed that even though he has presented 46,000 signatures for his nomination, 16,000 more than needed, they were gathered from 14 governorates only and not the required 15.
He has, since then, disappeared from the public scene.
He was married with three daughters. et