Omar Suleiman has been sworn in as deputy to President Hosni Mubarak," news agency MENA said. Shortly afterwards, state television showed images of Suleiman, an army lieutenant general, saluting his close friend Mubarak after taking the oath of office.
Mubarak, who is facing a fifth day of violent demonstrations calling for him to go, has steadfastly refused to name a vice-president since he came to power in 1981.
- Enigmatic figureSuleiman has been labelled the most powerful spy chief in the Middle East, and the sharply dressed and well-groomed general was for years a highly enigmatic figure for the world at large.
- He is a trusted talks partner for both the United States and Israel, and has orchestrated a series of albeit short-live truces between Israel and the Palestinians over the last 10 years.
- In 1995, Suleiman advised Mubarak to ride in an armoured car during a visit to Addis Ababa that shielded him from the fire of Islamist gunmen which killed the car's driver.
- During the 1990s and following the botched Ethiopian assassination attempt, Suleiman joined the efforts of the CIA and other foreign intelligence agencies to crack down on Islamists, at home and abroad.
- He also proceeded to target home-grown radical Islamist groups Gamaa Islamiya and Jihad after they carried out a string of attacks on foreigners that hit Egypt's vital tourism industry hard.
- Previously, he was Minister without Portfolio and Director of the Egyptian General Intelligence Directorate (EGID), the national intelligence agency, from 1993 to 2011. In his role as Director of EGID, the British Daily Telegraph dubbed him as "one of the world's most powerful spy chiefs". Foreign Policy magazine ranked him the Middle East's most powerful intelligence chief, ahead of Mossad chief Meir Dagan.
Early life and education
Suleiman was born in Qena in Southern Egypt. He left Qena for Cairo in 1954, at the age of nineteen, to enroll in Egypt's prestigious Military Academy. He received additional military training in the former Soviet Union at Moscow's Frunze Military Academy. Furthermore, he holds bachelors and master degrees in Political Science from Ain Shams and Cairo Universities in the mid-1980s. Suleiman was transferred to military intelligence, where he began what was to be a long relationship between Egypt and the United States.
Egyptian intelligence career
Suleiman became the director of military intelligence in 1991. Suleiman became the chief of Egyptian Intelligence in 1993.
His name has become known only in the last years, breaking the tradition of keeping the name of the Egyptian head of Intelligence a secret known only to top government officials.
It was released in the media around 2000. Suleiman has acquired a more public profile while trying to broker a deal between the different armed Palestinian groups vying for power in Gaza as the top presidential envoy from President Hosni Mubarak as well as brokering deals or truces between the Palestinians and Israel.
His perceived role in negotiations between Palestinian groups gave him the image of an effective behind-the-scenes figure in the Egyptian government as well as identifying him as potentially useful to foreign governments such those of the Arab countries, Israel, the Palestinians and the United States.
Political role and accession to the Vice Presidency
Due to his role in the regional political scene and the lack of an alternative candidate acceptable to Hosni Mubarak, some have speculated that Suleiman will succeed Mubarak as President, or at least become a Vice-President.