Change you can believe in: if US-backed

Egypt's Vice-President Omar Suleiman, who is leading talks to create a new government, has been courted by the US, with Washington considered a questionable mediator.

­“I think it's important to support the transition process announced by the Egyptian government, actually headed now by Vice-President Omar Suleiman,” US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declared.

These are hardly the words of a neutral broker far removed from the people her administration claims to be listening to.

In reality, people on the streets of Cairo say quite different things.

“We protest against [Omar Suleiman] because he is just in Hosni Mubarak’s government, just [because of] that.”

“The Egyptian people have already had three military leaders. We want no more military, only civilian leaders now.”

On Tuesday, the 15th day of uprisings against President Mubarak’s rule, activists in Cairo’s Tahrir Square have called for new protests to mark the start of the third week of demonstrations.

Opposition activists are expecting about a million people to take to the streets by the evening. People still do not believe in new government’s promises made previously on Monday to raise salaries and pension payments. They say authorities just want to stop demonstrations and calm people.

People are puzzled, wondering if the government can do it now, why it could not be done ages ago. At the same time, people are gathering in front of the parliament building. They are demanding new Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq’s resignation. He has been in the post for a week-and-a-half.

Dr. Magdy Belal heads up Egyptian Association for Community Participation Enhancement, a human rights organization that teaches Egyptians about democracy. He says Egyptians do not like Suleiman for the very reason the Americans do.

“Omar Suleiman is part of this regime. We consider American people, the American president, they want to keep this regime. They say ‘let Mubarak go,’ but the regime stays in the authority.”

Touted last year by the UK’s Telegraph as the most powerful spy in the region, Suleiman is suave, sophisticated and fluent in English. But the former head of Egypt's intelligence service has worked for years as the CIA's man in Cairo.

Stephen Soldz from Psychologists for Social Responsibility shared that “The US CIA co-ordinated within their so-called extraordinary rendition program. This is where they kidnap suspected terrorists around the world and send them to countries in the Middle East – Egypt primarily among them.”

Suleiman is accused of having been personally involved in torturing suspects.

“This is the problem now in Egypt, this is the struggle not between Mubarak and the people, but between the American CIA, the cover-operators of US power around the world, and the people, and having to try to get Mubarak in place with somebody else,” shared investigative journalist Tony Gosling.

It is hard to ignore the fact that the very abuses that drove hundreds of thousands of Egyptians into the streets had assistance from the United States: while attempting to disperse crowds on the streets of Cairo, police used tear-gas shells with the words “made in America” written on them.

So much for a regime change – Suleiman was as much made in America as the dictator who appointed him and who is now being thrown out by the Egyptian people.

WikiLeaks cables show the US administration had been grooming him for years.

As far back as 2007, it had already identified him as the possible successor to President Mubarak.

A US cable dated back to May 2007 stated that, “Many of our contacts believe that Suleiman, because of his military background, would at least have to figure if any in any succession scenario.”

Former assistant to Egyptian Minister for Foreign Affairs Abdallah Al-Ashaal said that, “Omar Suleiman is old, he is nearly 76, and I do not think he is willing to stay [the whole] time. Perhaps he’ll lead the transitional period and if he would be successful, he would be very happy.”

When Barack Obama goes on record and says, “It is not the right of any other country to determine Egypt’s leaders. Only the Egyptian people can do that,” he must be omitting something important.

Egyptian people laugh at such statements because if the American president says one thing, his secretary of state is admitting to something different.

“What we have to do is to send a consistent message supporting the orderly transition that has begun, urging that it be not only transparent and sincere, but very concrete,” Hillary Clinton said.

But many Egyptians are afraid of Suleiman and think he is more of a dictator than Mubarak, which leaves the US out in the cold when it has to explain why it is backing Suleiman.