The succession of Mubarak by Soliman was pushed in 2008 by the Israelis
who were concerned at the time that Mubarak appeared to be in declining health, according to a Wikileaks cable originating two years ago at the US Embassy in Tel Aviv, Israel.
The cable, published yesterday in the UK Telegraph, also tells us that the transition of power from Mubarak to Soliman has been planned since at least 2008, and who it is who has been pushing hardest for this particular outcome.
Here's the most relevant sections of the Telegraph report and, then, the actual cable:
The Telegraph write-up: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/...
The new vice-president of Egypt, Omar Suleiman, is a long-standing favourite of Israel's who spoke daily to the Tel Aviv government via a secret "hotline" to Cairo, leaked documents disclose.
By Tim Ross, Christopher Hope, Steven Swinford and Adrian Blomfield 9:25PM GMT 07 Feb 2011
Mr Suleiman, who is widely tipped to take over from Hosni Mubarak as president, was named as Israel's preferred candidate for the job after discussions with American officials in 2008.
As a key figure working for Middle East peace, he once suggested that Israeli troops would be "welcome" to invade Egypt to stop weapons being smuggled to Hamas terrorists in neighbouring Gaza.
The details, which emerged in secret files obtained by WikiLeaks and passed to The Daily Telegraph, come after Mr Suleiman began talks with opposition groups on the future for Egypt's government.
On Saturday, Mr Suleiman won the backing of Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State, to lead the "transition" to democracy after two weeks of demonstrations calling for President Mubarak to resign.
And, here's the most relevant section of the cable: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/...
5. (S) In terms of atmospherics, Hacham said the Israeli delegation was "shocked" by Mubarak's aged appearance and slurred speech. Hacham was full of praise for Soliman, however, and noted that a "hot line" set up between the MOD and Egyptian General Intelligence Service is now in daily use. Hacham said he sometimes speaks to Soliman's deputy Mohammed Ibrahim several times a day. Hacham noted that the Israelis believe Soliman is likely to serve as at least an interim President if Mubarak dies or is incapacitated. (Note: We defer to Embassy Cairo for analysis of Egyptian succession scenarios, but there is no question that Israel is most comfortable with the prospect of Omar Soliman.)
While it is widely assumed by Egyptians that Mubarak's rule is firmly supported by Israel, and that Soliman was his favored successor, this is the clearest picture yet of what American assumptions have been regarding Israel's agenda for post-Mubarek Egypt; it also shows why many Egyptians will not settle for a package of "reforms" that includes this succession.