Analysis: Suleiman Candidacy Foil for Concern Over Islamists
The last minute entry of ex intelligence chief Omar Suleiman into the Egyptian presidential race, by "popular demand", is a dramatic attempt by the holdovers from the Mubarak regime to turn the tables.
While Suleiman has previously resisted calls to run, a few factors have combined to persuade him that this is an opportune moment to enter the fray.
The Muslim Brotherhood decision to seek the presidency is the big enchilada.
Opponents of the Muslim Brotherhood can be complacent over a Muslim Brotherhood legislature, but not over a Muslim Brotherhood presidency.
Arab states have never been ruled by a legislature. Some Arab prime ministers may have entertained such illusions, but the bottom line is that the executive, whether king or president, holds the high cards. The president or king controls the security apparatus, the army and appointments to both hierarchies.
If the Muslim Brotherhood assumed the presidency, Egypt would swiftly be on the road to Turkey with no turning back.
The Arab Spring coalition has fallen apart with the walkout of the Christians and the Liberals from the constitution drafting commission, where the Islamists have a two thirds majority. This committee is going to create a sharia state, and therefore Liberals and Christians cannot abide the emerging result.
They will not be gracing anti Suleiman demonstrations.
The visit to the United States of the Islamic Brotherhood representatives coupled with the continued chumminess between Barack Obama and Recep Erdogan of Turkey, has disabused opponents of the Brotherhood of the notion that American displeasure will prevent the Islamists from an attemped total takeover.
The Arab Spring has not done Egypt any favors, economically. In addition to members of the old regime, other Egyptians find themselves worse off economically.
These people, as well, will not be put off by the political reappearance of Omar Suleiman.
The missile attacks on the Israeli city of Eilat from the Sinai were followed by stern warnings from Israel. Despite the protestations by Muslim Brotherhood leaders visiting the United States that they will honor the peace treaty with Israel, there have been enough hints and links that the Islamic parties are looking for pretexts to back out of the treaty - such as, for example, Israeli "noncompliance".
This could produce a slippery slope, leading to conflagration that, for pragmatic reasons, the people aligned with Omar Suleiman want to avoid.