It has been pretty clear from comments over the past few days that the Obama Administration is keen on Omar Suleiman, Egypt’s newly appointed Vice President and long-standing spymaster, as a successor for dictator Hosni Mubarak. WikiLeaks cables have suggested he has long been Israel’s favorite successor candidate as well.
But while his decades near the head of Egypt’s torture-happy regime doesn’t seem to phase them, his public comments may make it harder to publicly back him as loudly as they might like. That is because Suleiman is openly insisting that Egypt simply isn’t “ready for democracy”.
Which is really one of those things a savvy dictator is supposed to keep to himself, and the US, master of downplaying shameful behavior in its allies, termed the comment “unhelpful.” Though it seemed many may have designs on Suleiman as the new dictator-in-chief of Egypt’s pro-US regime, it seems this would be difficult to pull off without Suleiman insisting that he is “pro-democracy” in some nominal way and at least giving lip-service to some future reforms.
It also seems to support the opposition’s claims that Suleiman is not negotiating in a sincere manner on democratic reforms, and indeed is just ignoring some of the biggest demands of the protesters, hoping they’ll eventually give up. With protests entering their third week, there is no indication that this is happening.