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The Suleiman Funeral and the Problem of Who Will Attend

July 19th, 2012

Today’s death of ‘Omar Suleiman, the Egyptian intelligence chief and, briefly., Vice President, has created something of a protocol quandary. He was, after all, Vice President of the country, in fact the only Vice President it has had since Husni Mubarak ascended to the Presidency. He also heald the rank of Major General in the Armed Forces, so he is of course being accorded a military funeral (tomorrow) and, unsurprisingly, Field Marshal Tantawi will attend.

But what about President Morsi? ‘Omar Suleiman’s record as an intelligence chief is mostly sealed, but of one thing he never made any secret: he was the inveterate foe of the Muslim Brotherhood, jailing them at home and working against their ally Hamas abroad. Will the Muslim Brothjerhood President attend the funeral of the man known for jailing Brotherhood members. (Morsi himself has spent short prisons in jail, though not the years of many of his colleagues.)

Early indications are, no: someone from the Presidential office will represent Morsi at the funeral. This could change, but it is the sort of awkward problem likely to crop up during Egypt’s transition. When Mubarak dies, the fact that he was convicted of a crime and imprisoned might mean a low-key funeral. But Suleiman is an ex-Vice President, with no convictions, though there was speculation he might have left Egypt to live in the Gulfs when he left the country after Morsi’s election.

And of course the conspiracy theorists are out in force, as is to be expected for a man with a spooky background like Suleiman’s. Either the US did him in (after all, this week’s conspiracy, as Hillary Clinton learned, is that the US is promoting the Muslim Brotherhood), or he actually died in the bombing in Damascus! 


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