Masoud, Tarek, Newsweek
Byline: Tarek Masoud; Tarek Masoud is an assistant professor at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.
Can Mubarak's former spymaster win power?
The 14 months since Hosni Mubarak's overthrow have not been kind to those who yearn for a free Egypt. A military junta rules, Islamists dominate the Parliament, thousands languish in army jails, the economy careens toward insolvency, no one has been held accountable for the slaughter of more than 800 citizens during the country's 2011 uprising--and now Omar Suleiman, Mubarak's spymaster and onetime deputy, is running for president. For many Egyptians, the general's reappearance is a bitter reminder of the incompleteness of their revolution.
Politicians of all stripes warn that Suleiman's candidacy is part of a plot to revive the dictatorship. The Muslim Brotherhood's presidential candidate has promised a new revolution if Suleiman wins on May 23, and the Parliament has passed a law that would bar Suleiman and other Mubarak-era notables from running (although it's not clear if the junta will approve it or the courts will let it stand).
This is not the first time Egyptians have been consumed with Suleiman's presidential prospects. Toward the end of Mubarak's reign, when the leader's unlovable son Gamal appeared poised to succeed him, many Egyptians thought Suleiman would make a fine alternative. He was, after all, a soldier in a country that lionized its military men, was untainted by the younger Mubarak's neoliberalism, and--most important for those allergic to the Muslim Brotherhood--he hated Islamists.
But that was then. …