Newly leaked US diplomatic cables suggest that Egypt's Vice President Omar Suleiman was long seen by Israel as the preferred candidate to succeed Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
According to a 2008 cable released by WikiLeaks, and published on the Daily Telegraph
web site Monday, a senior adviser from the Defense Ministry told US diplomats in Tel Aviv that the Israelis believe Suleiman would likely serve as "at least an interim president if Mubarak dies or is incapacitated."RELATED:Suleiman: Egypt will maintain peace with IsraelAnalysis: Suleiman - Egypt’s strongman who kept Islamists in checkEgypt's Mubarak names vice president for 1st time
The cable quoted the advisor, David Hacham, as saying that he sometimes spoke to Suleiman's deputy several times a day via a "hotline."
The diplomats added: "There is no question that Israel is most comfortable with the prospect of" Suleiman.
According to the cable, Hacham stated that an Israeli delegation led by Defense Minister Ehud Barak was "shocked by Mubarak's aged appearance and slurred speech," when it met him in Egypt. "Hacham was full of praise" for Suleiman, however, it said.
Suleiman, formerly the chief of the Egyptian General Intelligence
Directorate, was appointed Egypt's vice president by President Hosni
Mubarak last month following the outbreak of mass protests against the
He has been known as a powerful figure who has kept Islamists in check
at home while managing contacts at the highest level with Israel, Fatah
and Hamas abroad.
In 1993, he was appointed by Mubarak to head the all-powerful General
Intelligence Directorate, which has been described by Egyptian
journalist Issandr Amrani as an organization that “combines the
intelligence-gathering elements of the CIA, the counterterrorism role of
the FBI, the protection duties of the Secret Service, and the
high-level diplomacy of the State Department.”
Following his appointment, Suleiman was tasked with stemming a major
terrorism campaign launched by the al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya group, which
killed hundreds of members of the Egyptian security forces and foreign
tourists, in a string of attacks throughout the 1990s. In 2003,
al-Gammal al-Islamiyya renounced terrorism, and other Islamist elements
had been weakened or forced to disband by Suleiman’s war against them.
On a regional level, Suleiman is Egypt’s most important envoy to Israel,
Fatah and Hamas. He is extremely well versed in the affairs of both
Israel and the Palestinians, according to Dr. Ely Karmon, a senior
researcher at the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism at the
Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya.
Suleiman oversaw numerous mediation efforts aimed at getting Fatah and
Hamas to agree to a power-sharing deal over the past two decades.