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Mubarak's pick for vice president reflects his worldview

Mubarak's pick reflects his worldview

The story goes that Omar Suleiman rose to favor when he saved President Hosni Mubarak's life in 1995 by demanding the president ride in an armored car in Ethiopia. A gunman opened fire on the vehicle, but Mubarak escaped unharmed. On Saturday, Suleiman was named vice president of Egypt — and the clear successor to the top job — after years as Egypt's foreign intelligence chief and Egypt's lead liaison with the Palestinians. Suleiman is said to hold a similar worldview to Mubarak, deeply distrusting Iran, favoring close relations with Washington and supporting the cold peace with Israel. But Suleiman, a former general, is the establishment's candidate, not the public's, and crowds have already begun shouting chants against him.

Looting spreads

In many cities in Egypt, there was a growing fear of lawlessness. After police retreated following clashes with protesters, vigilantes armed with sticks and knives patrolled Cairo neighborhoods. "We were out guarding our neighborhood and we caught a number of people attempting to loot, including five carrying identification cards from the Interior Ministry," said Kamal Banna, a labor activist from Suez. Would-be looters also broke into Cairo's famed Egyptian Museum, ripping the heads off two mummies and damaging 10 small artifacts before being caught and detained by soldiers, Zahi Hawass, Egypt's antiquities chief said Saturday.

Worries in Israel

Israel watched nervously Saturday as antigovernment unrest worsened in Egypt, fearful that the violent and growing street protests could topple Israel's most important ally in the Arab world. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered his government to remain silent about the situation in Egypt. But in a clear reflection of Israel's concerns, Sun D'Or, a subsidiary of Israel's national airline, El Al, whisked dozens of Israelis, including diplomats' families, out of Egypt on an emergency flight. Egypt was the first Arab country to make peace with Israel, and for 30 years Mubarak has steadfastly honored the deal.

Tunisia has no tips

Tunisia's new foreign minister says his country isn't going to lecture Egyptians on what path their country should take. The two Arab countries are different and must each chart their own course, Ahmed Ounaies told the Associated Press in an interview Saturday. Tunisia's protests toppled the country's longtime autocratic President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali on Jan. 14. "It is up to the Egyptian people to decide their present and their future for themselves," Ounaies, a career diplomat and a political independent, said. "We are not going to decide on their behalf or give them any lessons."

Times wires

Mubarak's pick for vice president reflects his worldview 01/29/11 [Last modified: Saturday, January 29, 2011 11:26pm]
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