Can Omar Suleiman be Egypt’s De Klerk?

… As a Quaker, I have to believe in the possibility that any person on God’s earth is capable of becoming a better person and acting in a more generous and wise manner than hitherto.
In his speech on Tuesday, Hosni Mubarak announced that his role model in life was Ceausescu, not De Klerk.
Since then, his hastily-appointed vice-president, Omar Suleiman, has been diplomatically nudging the old(er) guy aside and seizing the reins of effective power. Many of which now lie in the need to negotiate a completely new social/political compact with the many pro-democracy forces in Egypt.
He made a start today. This could be a new chapter in the “divide and rule” strategy he has pursued toward Egypt’s oppositionists throughout his many years of the country’s extremely rights-abusing General Intelligence Service.
Or, it could be the start of a process that will lead Egypt much closer to the rights-respecting order that its 85 million people so desperately need.
(When De Klerk started out talking to Nelson Mandela in 1990, he didn’t know which way that was leading, either, I think. Took them four more years to reach the pivotal, free and fair, elections that changed South Africa forever.)
At this point, I’m not analytically “calling” the way that Suleiman’s outreach is heading. Firstly, it’s far too early to tell. Secondly, I’m just off to Quaker meeting. So holding my Egyptian friends– and all of Egypt’s people– quietly in God’s light for an hour seems like a really good thing to do.

8 thoughts on “Can Omar Suleiman be Egypt’s De Klerk?”

  1. Just for the record, the SA regime started talking directly, politically, to Nelson Mandela, who had been in their prison system since 1964, in 1985.
    F W de Klerk did not become President until 1989. Mandela was released, and the ANC and the SACP unbanned, on 2 February 1990, just over 21 years ago.
    So, talks as such did not start in 1990. Nor were they all about de Klerk and Mandela, two individuals who did not in fact get on very well, but involved a lot of people.
    De Klerk is not loved. He is for example described in one of today’s SA Sunday papers and “the white right wing’s favourite verraier (traitor),” meaning, I think, that as much as the white right wing may see him as a traitor, yet they still have to deal with him as SA’s most prominent surviving right-wing propagandist, with his horrid arrogant “De Klerk Foundation”.
    The de Klerk that you are comparing Omar Suleiman with is a mythical de Klerk, a character in an imaginary redemption story that very few South Africans subscribe to.
    Please, by all means let’s love each other, but let’s not sell each other fairy stories.

  2. This is designed as a “Terminator” story. Bits are smashed, bits fall off, but the infernal thing is still trying to regenerate.

  3. I am not a bit optimistic about Suleiman. There is a reason Mubarak appointed him, and there is a reason the U.S. is willing to talk to him and to pretend he is a viable option. I hope the insurgency will not back down too easily.

  4. You do recognize, right, that the result in South Africa, from the accommodation ‘achieved’ to resolve apartheid, preserved white privilege in an EVEN MORE VICIOUSLY unequal system?
    How easy you seem to find it to once again trust vicious and unprincipled ‘leaders’ to somehow have changes of heart. Why not trust the People? Somehow that always seems to be ruled right out of the range of possibilities. Nope, gotta find some brutal leader that we can hope will have a lovely ‘change of heart’.

  5. Suleiman was very close to Mubarak so I don’t think this would really bring any significant changes. If they want to pull the country in the right direction they should elect a new generation of democratic leaders.

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