Egypt: Suleiman demonised Muslim Brotherhood as `bogeyman`

Cables report Egypt`s VP as saying that Iran remained "a significant threat".

Cairo: The whistleblower website, WikiLeaks, has claimed in its latest revelation that Egypt`s new Vice President, Omar Suleiman, had long sought to demonise the opposition Muslim Brotherhood as "the bogeyman" in his contacts with sceptical US officials.

The revelations, as part of hundreds of secret US diplomatic cables, are poised to raise doubts whether Suleiman can act as an honest broker in the country’s political crisis, The Guardian reports.

The leaked cables have claimed that US officials were sceptical of Suleiman’s effort to depict the Brotherhood as "the bogeyman".

In a cable on February 15, 2006, the then-ambassador Francis Ricciardone reported that Suleiman had "asserted that the Muslim Brotherhood had spawned `11 different Islamist extremist organisations`, most notably the Egyptian Islamic Jihad and the Gama`a Islamiya Islamic Group".

During his meeting with the FBI`s director, Robert Mueller, who was visiting Cairo in February 2006, the cable quotes Suleiman as saying that the Brotherhood was "neither a religious organisation, nor a social organisation, nor a political party, but a combination of all three".

"The principal danger, in Suleiman’s view, was the group`s exploitation of religion to influence and mobilise the public. Suleiman termed the MB`s recent success in the parliamentary elections as `unfortunate`, adding his view that although the group was technically illegal, existing Egyptian laws were insufficient to keep the MB in check," it added.

In another cable dated January 02, 2008, Ricciardone reported Suleiman as saying that Iran remained "a significant threat to Egypt", adding: "Iran is supporting Jihad and spoiling peace, and has supported extremists in Egypt previously. If they were to support the Muslim Brotherhood this would make them `our enemy`."

The disclosure came as the vice president met opposition groups, including the officially banned Brotherhood, to figure out ways to end the political crisis in Egypt.

The US has been exploring options not only for speeding up President Hosni Mubarak`s resignation, but also for handing over power to a transition government led by Suleiman and backed by the military, the paper said.

Mubarak had ruled Egypt without a vice president for 30 years, but suddenly appointed 74-year-old Suleiman as his deputy last month amid huge protests demanding the autocratic ruler’s resignation.