Suleiman gives up presidential bid over Islamist foothold in young army elite
Former Egyptian intelligence strongman Gen. Omar Suleiman’s decision, finalized Thursday, April 5, to drop out of the presidential race in the June election shocked Washington and Jerusalem and dashed their hopes of a figure capable of halting or at least offsetting the Muslim Brotherhood’s monopoly of power in post-Mubarak Egypt. The Supreme Military Council ruling Egypt, the SCAF, concluded in a series of secret conferences that Brotherhood and radical lslamist power had become unstoppable, debkafile’s military and intelligence sources report.
SCAF chairman Field Marshal Mohammed Tantawi and Egyptian Chief of Staff Gen. Sami Annan confronted the generals at those meetings with two options:
1. To run Gen. Suleiman as the army’s candidate for president and throw all the military’s organizational and financial resources behind the bid for a ruler most of whose career had been devoted to fighting the Muslim Brotherhood and Muslim extremists: or –
2. To stand aside and let El-Shater attain the presidency. Four months after the poll, Tantawi and nearly half of the SCAF generals are due to retire. The logic behind this plan is that in July it becomes the turn of a new elite of young generals move in and take over their mission of preserving Egyptian military’s supremacy over the political system of government which will by then be dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood.
Both these proposals were rejected after Gen. Suleiman and Gen. Murad Muwafi, head of intelligence, gave the generals a dose of the new reality. No one could count on the future elite of young generals not having been secretly penetrated by the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist groups, they said. Both knew of five or six young officers who were maintaining secret ties with the Brotherhood and its presidential candidate Khaiter El-Shater.
Suleiman was therefore skeptical about his prospects. Even if he did win the election, he said, as president he would be outflanked and tied hand and foot by the combined force of the Muslim Brotherhood and their allies in the high military command.
Our sources report that the revelation of Islamist infiltration of the Egyptian officer elite came as a shock to Washington and Jerusalem, where it had been hoped that Gen. Suleiman would ride into the presidency and stall the Muslim Brotherhood’s spreading domination of Egypt.
Some senior Israeli security and intelligence officials still refuse to take Omar Suleiman’s retirement from the race as final.